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HomeAt Home & BeyondWhat to do if you're forced to evacuate

What to do if you’re forced to evacuate

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Natural disasters and extreme weather pose a significant threat. No one is invulnerable to such events, and even if the idea of evacuating your home seems unlikely, preparing for evacuation can ensure calmer heads prevail in the case of adverse situations like natural disasters.

Ready.gov is a public service campaign that was established in February 2003 to help people prepare for, respond to and mitigate various types of emergencies, including natural disasters. The campaign notes that many types of emergencies can necessitate evacuation, and offers the following tips to individuals who have been told evacuation is their best option.

¥ Download the FEMA app. The FEMA app is an invaluable resource for individuals facing evacuation. The app, which is available for download through the Google Play store as well as the Apple App Store, provides a host of important information, including a list of open shelters for individuals living in areas where officials are urging residents to evacuate.
¥ Follow local evacuation instructions. Everyone has seen images of individuals stranded in areas that have been overtaken by flooding or destroyed by storms like hurricanes and tornados. Staying in place when evacuation orders have been issued puts your own life at risk as well as the lives of those who may attempt to help you, such as public safety officials. Many local public safety organizations will not send workers to help stranded citizens if the conditions pose a threat to the workers, which underscores how important it is that individuals evacuate when orders are issued.
¥ Don’t delay. The longer individuals wait to evacuate, the more risky the situation becomes. Ready.gov urges individuals to leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather. Even if the storm is not scheduled to touch down for awhile, getting caught in last-minute traffic could put evacuees in harm’s way. When you begin to evacuate, stick to the recommended evacuation routes, as alternative routes may be closed.
¥ Respect shelter pet policies. Evacuees who hope to stay in shelters must recognize that only service animals will be allowed in public shelters. Evacuees should still take their pets with them but should make arranging shelter for their companion animals part of their emergency strategy. Speak with friends or family members who live nearby but beyond the eye of the storm to determine if they can take in your pets should you be forced to evacuate your home.
¥ Secure your home. Prior to evacuating, secure your home by locking doors and windows and unplugging electrical equipment like radios, televisions and small appliances. Pay attention to evacuation order details, which may advise residents to shut off water, gas and electricity before leaving their homes.
¥ Stay in touch. Do your best to stay in touch with friends and family once you have evacuated your home. Let others know where you are going and inform them once you have arrived at your destination. In the days prior to evacuating, forward a copy of your evacuation plan to family members in other regions but also those who live locally so they can follow suit if need be.

Few people want to imagine evacuating their homes. Such a scenario can be frightening, but it’s considerably less daunting when individuals know what to do and where to go during the evacuation.

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