When To Go

You should evacuate when there is a significant chance that your home will be destroyed or that you will not be able to provide yourself and your family with the necessities of life. That seems fairly obvious, but it may be a difficult judgment to make. Situations change quickly. Weather predictions are inaccurate. Hazardous materials accidents happen suddenly. You may not be certain where to go or how to get there.

The first rule is to err on the side of caution. If you think that you may be in danger, get out now. Donít wait until the danger is almost upon you. The second rule is listen to public officials and announcements. If there is a suggested evacuation, leave. If you wait for it to become a mandatory evacuation, you are going to be at the end of the line instead of the beginning. That means trouble finding gasoline or a place to stay, empty grocery shelves and short tempers.

Be a good neighbor. Know who in your area may need your help and who may be able to help you. Make plans ahead of time. This is particularly important for the elderly and those who live alone. It is very difficult for an elderly person to leave their home and go to a shelter by themselves. You can help the lady down the street evacuate and she can help you with the kids.

For weather disasters, know what the various watches and warnings mean. There is a list at the end of the book. In general, a watch means there is a possibility of a weather disaster occurring in your area. A warning means that the disaster is already occurring or is imminent. Regardless, you do not want to bet your life on the accuracy of such predictions. Take action when watches are posted. Make contingency plans and never try to run a race with a storm.

For man-made disasters, leave as soon as you know you are in danger. With hazardous materials spills, train wrecks, fires and the like, the emergency response team will issue evacuation orders if they think evacuation is necessary. The general rule is to start with a two mile evacuation order and make it narrower if it is safe.

If a sudden disaster such as an earthquake or tornado has struck your area, get out as soon as you can. Make sure that everyone has gotten out of your home or office. Help your neighbors and co-workers as much as you can. When lives are secure, evacuate to safe shelter.

Whenever possible, leave early enough to travel in daylight. This is both faster and safer. Call your local and out-of-town contacts and let them know that you are leaving and where you are going. Contact them again when you arrive at your destination.

Don't wait for an evacuation
to become mandatory