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Prepare Your Family for a Natural Disaster 
by Rita Templeton September 09, 2005

Be prepared for an evacuation.

Some natural emergencies pose enough of a threat to require you to leave your home. In some cases, you may have a little bit of advance notice to prepare (provided you keep up with local weather reports), but it’s still a good idea to get ready in case a quick evacuation becomes necessary. Ask authorities about evacuation routes out of your city, and request a map with the routes clearly marked (if they can’t provide one, you can always make your own). Keep the map in a safe place where it will be easy to get to – even carry it in your purse or wallet, if you can.

There are several important things to do when you’re forced to evacuate your home. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), you should always do the following:

  • Keep a full tank of gas in your car at all times, or at least have gas available to fill the tank up; gas stations may be closed in an emergency situation. Take one car per family when evacuating, in order to help reduce traffic congestion.
  • If you don’t have a car, make sure you have alternate transportation arranged.
  • Have a battery-powered radio handy to listen to weather reports and evacuation instructions.
  • If you have to evacuate immediately, don’t dawdle – get your family and go as quickly as you can.
  • Follow recommended evacuation routes. Avoid shortcuts – either they’ll be blocked somehow due the natural disaster, or everyone else will have the same idea and traffic will be backed up there.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas, and stay away from downed power lines.

FEMA also suggests doing the following – but only if time permits:

  • Gather your disaster supplies kit.
  • Dress in sturdy shoes and protective clothing (long sleeves, long pants, etc.).
  • Secure your home by locking doors and windows, and unplug all electrical devices. The exception is refrigerators and freezers, unless there is a risk of flooding.
  • Notify others of your whereabouts.

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