When a hurricane warning is given, do you and your family have a hurricane evacuation plan ready? Having your home prepared for a hurricane should be part of your hurricane preparedness plan. Preparing a hurricane evacuation plan may help keep you, your family, and your pets safe as well as helps protect the property you leave behind.
How do you make a hurricane evacuation plan?
In many cases, a mandatory evacuation is declared a day or two in advance. Sometimes though, the evacuation order can come at a moment’s notice. Planning ahead for the hurricane will help ensure the safety of your family and property. Your plan should include:
- A meeting place: If your family isn’t together when the evacuation order is given, plan a meeting place to reconnect. This could be a church, school or even a location in a nearby town. Be aware of the disaster plans of your workplace and children's schools and how they might work with your meeting place.
- A designated out-of-state friend or relative as a family contact: This one person can update everyone in case your family is separated.
- Emergency cards: These cards can contain the meeting places in priority order along with important phone numbers and addresses, including that of your designated contact.
- An identified shelter or safe area for your location: Let friends and relatives know the shelter's location in advance.
- Evacuation routes: The first route to your public evacuation shelter could be the fastest routes from your home, workplace or meeting location but consider some alternate routes as well. Flooding, downed trees and washed-out bridges might cause you to change your evacuation route.
- Care for your pets: Some public shelters might not allow pets. Review your city or county’s evacuation plan to learn what local agencies or facilities might be able to house your pet during a hurricane.
- Car safety: You should make sure your gas tanks are full, and that you have a hurricane evacuation kit ready to go in your vehicle.
- Time to go bags. (See below): Make sure you know who will grab the necessary bags and lock all the doors and windows.
What should you pack in a hurricane evacuation kit?
Once assembled, remember to update your kit once a year, based on your family's changing needs. And keep the kits in a convenient place known to your whole family.
- A hurricane "go" bag: You should have a backpack, duffle bag or small suitcase with the essentials to survive a few days away from home. Consider including the following items:
- A change of clothes for a couple of days.
- Any toiletries you might need.
- Copies of important documents like your insurance policies, the deed to your house, and any necessary identification cards.
- A flashlight and replacement batteries.
- Battery-powered radio (with replacement batteries). A radio will help you stay tuned into local weather advisories.
- A supply of prescription medication. Check with your physician or pharmacist about whether you can store your medications with your survival kit and the best way to do so.
- Some cash as well as a pre-paid phone card.
- An extra set of keys for your house and car.
- Extra chargers for your phone.
- A copy of your evacuation plan.
- A hurricane emergency car kit: Place items in airtight plastic bags and store them in an easy-to-carry container, such as a plastic storage container with lid or a duffle bag. The kit should include:
- Basics such as water and food. Remember to change the water and food supply every six months.
- A first aid kit and any extra supplies for medical conditions.
- A few blankets.
- A phone charger for the car.
- Local and regional road maps.
- Garbage bags.
- Toilet paper.
- Paper towels.
- A gas can.
- Jumper cables.
- A towline.
With a little preparation, you will be better able to handle the next hurricane evacuation order. And after the storm, before you start any clean up from the hurricane on your property, contact your insurance agent with any reports of damage.