Hurricane Preparedness Week Day 2: Developing an Escape Plan

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s hurricane preparedness week, which means now is the time to prepare for the potential of a tropical storm or hurricane.

Monday marks day 2, and the theme is making an escape plan. The first thing you need to do is find out if you live in a storm surge or hurricane evacuation zone. If you do, you need to figure out where you would go and how you would get there if you were told to evacuate.

You don’t need to travel hundreds of miles if you need to evacuate. Identify someone, perhaps a friend or relative, who does not live in a dangerous area or home, and arrange with them to use their home as an evacuation destination.

Be sure to consider your pets, as most local shelters don’t allow them. Put the plan in writing for you and those you love.

  • Learn the types of disasters that are likely to occur in your community and the local emergency, evacuation and shelter plans for each specific disaster.
  • Plan how you will leave and where you will go if advised to evacuate.
    • Identify several places you could go to in an emergency, such as a friend’s house in another city or a motel. Choose destinations in different directions so you have options in case of an emergency.
    • If necessary, identify a place to stay that allows pets. Most public shelters only allow service animals. There are a few public shelters that accept pets, but you must pre-register your pet in order to bring them.
    • Familiarize yourself with alternate routes and other means of transportation outside your area.
    • Always follow the instructions of local authorities and remember that your evacuation route may be on foot depending on the type of disaster.
  • Develop a communication and family/household reunification plan so that you can maintain contact and take the best steps for each of you and reunite if you are separated.
  • Gather evacuation-ready supplies – both a “go-bag” that you can carry when evacuating on foot or by public transport, and supplies for traveling longer distances if you have a personal vehicle.
  • If you have a car:
    • Keep a full tank of gas there if an evacuation seems likely. Keep half a bottle of gasoline inside at all times in case of an unforeseen need to evacuate. Gas stations may be shut down in an emergency and unable to pump gasoline during power outages. Plan to take one car per family to reduce traffic jams and delays.
    • Make sure you have a portable emergency kit in the car.
  • If you don’t have a car, plan how you will leave if necessary. Make arrangements with your family, friends or local government.

During an evacuation

  • A list of open shelters can be found on your local county emergency management website.
  • Listen to a battery-powered radio and follow local evacuation instructions.
  • Take your first aid kit.
  • Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by the weather.
  • Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be allowed in public shelters. Plan now how you will care for your pets in an emergency.
  • If time allows it :
    • Call or email the out-of-state contact in your family communication plan. Tell them where you are going.
    • Secure your home by closing and locking doors and windows.
    • Unplug electrical appliances such as radios, televisions and small appliances. Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding. If there is damage to your home and you are asked to do so, turn off the water, gas and electricity before you leave.
    • Leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going.
    • Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides some protection, such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and a hat.
    • Ask neighbors who might need a ride.
  • Follow the recommended evacuation routes. Don’t take shortcuts; they can be blocked.
  • Be alert for road hazards such as washed out roads or bridges and downed power lines. Do not drive in flooded areas.

After an evacuation

  • If you have evacuated for the storm, check with local authorities both where you are staying and at home before travelling.
  • Residents returning to disaster areas after significant events should expect and prepare for disruptions to daily activities, and remember that it is dangerous to return home before storm debris is cleared.
  • Inform your friends and family before you leave and when you arrive.
  • Charge devices and consider getting backup batteries in case power outages continue.
  • Fill up with gas and consider downloading a fuel app to check for breakdowns along your route.
  • Bring supplies such as water and non-perishable food for the car ride.
  • Avoid downed power or utility lines; they can be energized with lethal voltage.
  • Stay away and report them immediately to your electric or utility company.
  • Only use generators away from home and NEVER run a generator inside a home or garage, or connect it to your home’s electrical system.
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