When making an emergency plan, it is important to plan for both evacuation and sheltering in place. Evacuation may be suggested in advance of severe weather, or in the event of a chemical incident such as a hazardous material release. Other times, officials may recommend what is known as sheltering in place. This means everyone should immediately get indoors and stay there until further notice. Often, the safest place to be in a building when a shelter in place order is given is in a room that has no windows. The specific reason for the order will dictate if a higher or lower part of the building is a better idea.
Elements every plan should include are:
- Notification of friends and family outside of the region
- Consider that cell phone networks might be overloaded in the immediate area
- Family meeting location inside and outside of the neighborhood, as well as outside of the city
- Continuation of medical care and medicines
- Pet care
- Having current pictures of family members for identification purposes
- Having a disaster survival kit already packed. Kits should be checked seasonally and updated to reflect current medical needs or family situations.
Sit down with all of the members of your household to discuss these questions when making your plan:
How can we prepare for, and respond to, the emergencies that are most likely to happen in areas where we spend most of our time? This includes work, home, and recreational spaces.
Who will be assigned which tasks in an emergency? How can we all work together to respond quickly?
How will we reconnect with people who are not with us? What happens to the plan if someone is out of town? Where will we meet close by? Where is somewhere farther away? Who can serve as an out-of-town contact person?
What special circumstances do we need to consider in our planning? Do we have children, family members with access and functional needs, pets, or other considerations?