Evacuation Planning: What You Need to Know

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As hurricane season approaches, having a well-thought-out evacuation plan is essential for ensuring the safety of you and your family. Hurricanes can strike with little warning, and having a plan in place can make a significant difference in how you handle an emergency. Here’s a detailed guide on how to create an effective evacuation plan, what to take with you, and where to go, based on recommendations from local government websites and FEMA.

Creating an Evacuation Plan

1. Know Your Evacuation Zone

  • Tip: Familiarize yourself with your community’s hurricane evacuation zones and routes. These zones are often mapped out by local governments and can indicate the areas most at risk during a hurricane.
  • How-To: Visit your local government’s website or emergency management office to find maps and information about evacuation zones and routes. Make sure you know the zone you live in and the best routes to take.

2. Designate a Safe Meeting Place

  • Tip: Choose two safe meeting spots for your family. One should be right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, and the other should be outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home.
  • How-To: Select a location that is easily accessible and known to all family members. Practice meeting at these spots to ensure everyone knows where to go.

3. Develop a Communication Plan

  • Tip: Create a plan for staying in touch with family members during an evacuation. Identify an out-of-town contact who can act as a central point for everyone to check in with.
  • How-To: Compile a list of important phone numbers and ensure that all family members have a copy. Use text messages or social media to communicate if phone lines are congested.

4. Plan for Your Pets

  • Tip: Include your pets in your evacuation plan. Identify pet-friendly shelters or hotels along your evacuation route.
  • How-To: Make sure your pets are microchipped and have identification tags. Pack a pet emergency kit with food, water, medications, and comfort items.

5. Practice Your Plan

  • Tip: Regularly practice your evacuation plan with all family members. This helps to ensure everyone knows what to do and can execute the plan quickly.
  • How-To: Conduct evacuation drills and review the plan periodically. Update the plan as needed to account for any changes in your household or community.

What to Take with You

1. Emergency Kit

  • Contents: Your emergency kit should include water, non-perishable food, a first aid kit, medications, flashlights, batteries, a battery-powered radio, and a manual can opener.
  • Tip: Keep the kit in a portable container that’s easy to grab and go. Ensure it’s stocked and ready at all times.

2. Important Documents

  • Contents: Pack copies of important documents such as identification, insurance policies, medical records, and bank account information in a waterproof container.
  • Tip: Consider keeping digital copies of these documents on a secure cloud service or USB drive.

3. Clothing and Personal Items

  • Contents: Pack clothing, toiletries, and personal hygiene items for each family member. Include sturdy shoes and weather-appropriate clothing.
  • Tip: Don’t forget special items like glasses, hearing aids, and essential baby supplies.

4. Cash and Credit Cards

  • Contents: Have cash in small bills and credit cards ready. ATMs and electronic payment systems may not be operational during an emergency.
  • Tip: Keep some cash hidden in multiple places within your belongings for added security.

5. Comfort Items

  • Contents: Bring comfort items such as blankets, pillows, books, and toys for children.
  • Tip: These items can help reduce stress and provide some sense of normalcy during a chaotic time.

Where to Go

1. Identify Local Shelters

  • Tip: Know the locations of local shelters and the routes to get there. Shelters are typically set up by local governments and the Red Cross.
  • How-To: Use local government websites and resources like FEMA’s app to find and map out the nearest shelters.

2. Plan Your Evacuation Route

  • Tip: Plan multiple routes to your destination in case roads are blocked or traffic is heavy.
  • How-To: Use maps and GPS to identify primary and alternate routes. Share these routes with family members.

3. Know Pet-Friendly Locations

  • Tip: Not all shelters accept pets, so it’s crucial to know pet-friendly shelters and hotels in advance.
  • How-To: Use resources like BringFido.com or contact local animal shelters to find pet-friendly evacuation options.

4. Coordinate with Friends or Family

  • Tip: Arrange to stay with friends or family outside the affected area if possible.
  • How-To: Discuss your evacuation plans with them in advance and ensure everyone is on the same page.

Final Tips

  • Stay Informed: Monitor local news and weather updates to stay informed about evacuation orders and hurricane progress.
  • Fuel Up: Keep your vehicle’s gas tank full during hurricane season to ensure you can evacuate without delay.
  • Stay Calm: Evacuations can be stressful, but staying calm and following your plan can make the process smoother and safer for everyone involved.

Having a detailed and practiced evacuation plan is crucial for safety during a hurricane. By knowing what to do, what to take, and where to go, you can ensure that you and your loved ones are prepared to handle the challenges that come with these powerful storms. For more information and resources, visit FEMA and your local government’s emergency management website.

Stay safe this hurricane season, and remember that preparation is key.

Lee Miller
Lee Miller was born in Denison, TX and grew up in East Texas with his family. He studied music education at Stephen F. Austin State University taking a job in television on his last day of student teaching. Lee also provides business authoritative expertise to the broadcast industry as a consultant. Presently he is CEO of MSG Resources LLC, which specializes in consulting within broadcast best practices, distribution technologies and media strategy mastery. - - - - - Lee Miller is a well-known veteran of the broadcast media industry with particular experience in leading for-profit and non-profit broadcasting organizations. His career began in Lufkin, Texas in the early 80’s where he progressed from studio operations to creative services and network management. Mr. Miller has since received various professional designations and memberships such as Society of Broadcast Engineers accredited frequency coordinator, The Energy Professionals Association Certified Energy Consultant, and National Religious Broadcasters Television Committee & past Chair. Lee also serves as the Executive Director of the Advanced Television Broadcasting Alliance, is a member of the Advanced Television Systems Committee and is proud to be part of Texas Association of Broadcasters Golden Mic Club, highlighting extraordinary careers in broadcasting. Continued engagement with his community is at the core of his business practices serving on the board of the Salvation Army and as keyboardist for the contemporary worship band at Harmony Hill Baptist Church. Lee lives near Lufkin Texas on one of his family’s tree farms located in the Texas Forest Country region north of Houston. He is married to Kenla and has two grown children, Joshua, COO of MSGPR Ltd Co and Morgan, a Critical Care ICU RN.

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