As what may be the biggest storm in history makes its way to the United States, people are looking to the recent difficulties in Houston and surrounding areas as an example. Many people are criticizing government officials for not calling for mandatory evacuations in some of the hardest hit areas, and people are preparing for just those orders should Hurricane Irma hit as fiercely as predicted. Here is how to prepare for and respond to an evacuation order and stay safe.
Before the Evacuation
Before an evacuation is ordered, you should identify several places that you can go if you are told to evacuate your home. You may want to travel to a family member or friend’s home. You should choose several places you can go in different directions should one way be in the path of danger.
If you have pets, you will want to either find somewhere that will accept both them and you, or find a place you can take your pets, like a boarding facility or shelter. Listen carefully to the instructions of local officials before you leave home.
Develop a plan to remain in communication with your family. Charge several portable battery packs so that you can keep cell phones charged. Know where you will reunite with each other should you become separated.
During the Evacuation
Keep your ear close to a battery-operated radio so you are aware of instructions being given. Take pre-made emergency kit, and leave early enough that you will avoid the majority of evacuees. Take your pets and be prepared to have to leave them somewhere should they not be accepted at shelters that are set up for people.
If you have time to do so, contact a family member out of the area to let them know where you are going. Unplug all appliances and lock your doors and windows. If instructed to do so or if there is a great risk of flood, turn off your utilities before you leave. Leave a note attached high on the wall alerting others as to your direction of travel and intended destination.
As you are traveling to your destination, follow the directed route. Stay alert for any washed out bridges or roads and keep an eye open for downed power lines. If you are forced to walk through flooded areas, do so with care. There can be obstacles and hazards in the water that aren’t visible.
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