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Handling An Evacuation Procedure

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 20 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Evacuation Procedures Evacuation

The most important to thing to note when it comes to handling an evacuation procedure is that there are no hard and fast rules as the need to evacuate and how you should go about doing so has so many variables which include:

  • The reasons why you need to evacuate e.g. to escape from fire, flood, gas explosions, hurricanes etc
  • The amount of notice you’ll have in terms of warning time before you must evacuate
  • Whether or not an official body is in control of conducting the evacuation e.g. the police, the fire brigade, the armed forces etc

To consider this in a little more in depth, it’s only necessary to look at two recent examples - the flooding experiences in the UK over recent years and the likes of the outbreak of forest fires we regularly witness on TV in the USA and other places. In both situations, there will have ultimately been the need to evacuate for many people but how the evacuations were carried out would have been very different.

Therefore, unless you’ve received direct notification by an official authority representative calling at your house to tell you that you must evacuate or you’ve been made aware of any evacuation procedures via the local media, i.e. TV or radio then all you can do is to have some kind of preparation plan in place in the eventuality that you have no option but to evacuate your home.

Preparation - Discussing Possible Disaster Scenarios

Although you might think that you live in an area where everything is calm, tranquil and safe, disaster could strike at any time. It could be a vehicle which is out of control and ends up careering into your property or a plane crash nearby or some kind of unexpected freak weather which damages your house beyond immediate repair - the list is endless and the fact is that none of us can be certain that we would never need to evacuate our home. One of the things that is useful is to sit down and discuss with your family the types of disaster that could possibly happen. However bizarre some of the suggestions might be, it can be a very useful exercise in the event that a disaster which required you to evacuate did actually occur. Hopefully, an evacuation might be co-ordinated by one of the emergency services who would tell you what to do but that cannot always be guaranteed if there is insufficient time to respond so talking through possible scenarios and making some notes that you all understand is a good survival exercise. Discuss things like:

  • The different types of disasters that could occur and how you might respond to each of them
  • Where you would go and what you would bring with you and when you wouldn’t even bother to bring anything with you in disaster scenarios where you might not have time to gather any belongings
  • Evacuation routes by car if you felt you needed to get well away from the immediate area

Planning A Meeting Point

Although we’d all like to think that in a disaster scenario our family would all stay together, the reality is that this might not always be possible. Therefore, you should plan 2 meeting points which all the family should be familiar with. The first one might be somewhere reasonably close by but a safe distance from your home. This would be a meeting point perhaps in the event that your house caught fire. The second meeting point should be a place which you’re all aware of but which might be outside your own neighbourhood in case you cannot return home in the foreseeable future following a catastrophe.

Select An Emergency ‘Friend’ To Notify

All of you should have the contact phone number of somebody such as a friend or close family member who lives well away from you (and therefore the disaster area) to whom each of you should report into by phone in the event that there’s a disaster and you are all separated.

Things To Take With You

When considering taking things with you in the event that you need to evacuate, this will all depend upon whether or not there’s sufficient time to do that. Remember, in certain disaster scenarios, a fire in your house for example, you won’t have time and then your only option is making sure you get out immediately and stay out. However, if there is going to be time to take a few bits and pieces with you, the types of things you should consider might include:

  • Sleeping bags or blankets
  • Ready to eat, non-perishable foods and something to drink
  • Any necessary medications
  • Money, bank cards etc.
  • Torch
  • Wearing appropriate clothing for the weather conditions
  • First aid kit

Other Issues

As mentioned previously, the reason for the evacuation, the time you’ll have to evacuate and whether or not some kind of official body is organising the evacuation will all have a bearing on how you go about things but other useful things to know might include each responsible family member knowing how to shut off things like the electricity, water and gas from the main switches, all of you having attended a first-aid course, learning about home fire hazards etc and this will all be invaluable knowledge in the event that you ever need to evacuate.

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