When it comes to a disaster heading your way that you can't protect yourself from (for tornadoes you can go into your basement, for wildfires you just need to leave), then the process is relatively simple:
- Pay attention to the news and any notices about possible evacuations that may be required.
- Seek out multiple sources of information about the flood/fire/etc. that is in your area.
- If it looks like an evacuation may be necessary, don't wait. Head out before the crowd.
- Always keep your gas take at least half full then fill up the tank as soon as you have the opportunity when leaving.
- If some family members aren't home when you need to evacuate, plan ahead of time to meet up elsewhere (this is where pre-planning and your family communication plan comes into play).
- Have a plan for where to go. Will you go to a friend or family member's house? A hotel? You need to have this stuff planned out way ahead of time and have multiple plans for where to go in case one place you had planned to go to is inaccessible or having similar problems.
- Know alternate routes for escaping your neighborhood (keep a paper map of your area in your vehicle). Also listen to the news for recommended evacuation routes in case some roads are already closed.
- Don't drive yourself into danger (ie: don't drive over flooded roads, watch for downed power lines and don't drive over them, watch out for downed or falling trees, washed out bridges, etc).
- Keep your bug out bag at the ready. Toss it into your vehicle and leave.
- If you don't have a vehicle, plan how you will evacuate. Look at options for public transit, a bicycle, or walking if necessary. Obviously if these are your only choices you will want to evacuate very, very early.
- Always have extra cash on hand (as well as in the bank) so you can pay for incidentals ranging from food to gas to a hotel stay.
- Watch out for elderly or inform friends, family, and neighbors. They may need extra help evacuating.
- Offer to drive those who do not drive/don't have a vehicle if you have room.
- Realize that there is a particular psychology that causes some people to NOT want to evacuate (info here, here, and here).
- Have a plan for what to do with your pets and other animals should you need to evacuate. Again, start the process of dealing with your animals as soon as possible, not at the last minute.
- Don't refuse an evacuation order then expect to call 911 and receive help when TS really hits TF. First responders aren't going to risk their lives for a fool who changes their mind long after they should have evacuated.
- Secure your home before you leave. Shut off water, gas, and electricity if directed to do so (otherwise leave them on).
- When you leave, post a notice on your front door alerting authorities that you have already evacuated (date and time left, where you went). This makes fire and law enforcement's jobs easier if they are doing a door to door alert to tell people to evacuate. This way they won't waste precious time searching the house for you.
- Don't forget to let friends and family members know when and where you evacuated to.
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