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Evacuation Route Sign

One of the most important parts to your emergency plan is an evacuation plan.  Not only will this tell your family where to gather in case of emergency but it gives you clarity during a time of crisis.

Most people know that they need a meeting place for times when you have to leave your home in an emergency – such as a house fire.  Often that meeting place is across the street from your home.  However, that is not the only meeting place you should have.

Previously, we had a meeting place across the street and then agreed that if the neighborhood was unsafe, we would meet at one of my parents’ houses.  My father moved out of our community last summer and my mom is moving this summer.  Not only did this mean we did not have a “stage two” meeting place, but we don’t have a plan for where we are going to stay if we are evacuated from our home/neighborhood.

In my plan, we have 4 stages of evacuation – outside of the house, within our community, immediately outside our community, and far from our community.  Because our area has a lack of roads, we picked places that depend on which way we have to evacuate.

I mentioned we have a place across the street for meeting as our stage one.  We’ve replaced our stage two meeting place with a decision to meet at my office building.  At this time, many of our activities are in a radius around my building.  It’s a sturdy concrete building with covered areas where we can wait for each other.  It’s, easily, within walking distance of all those activities.

I should note that all of my evacuation plans are based on where we can walk to more so than what will make us the most comfortable.

Stage three evacuation is 3 large parks outside of our community.  When I say within walking distance – they are all within 15 miles of our home.  It’s a long walk but it’s a doable walk if an emergency occurs.  Ideally we would drive but you never know what the emergency is going to be.  All three parks have camping which means there is running water and toilets.  They all have large meadow or forest area which means foraging if necessary.

Stage four evacuation involves relatives who live outside of our region.

I will say that my family is not as rugged as I am.  I like to think I could live out in the woods long term but I’ve never tested that theory.  I’m pretty sure my family might not a lot of fun but they are troopers.  While these are not perfect plans by any stretch, they do allow me to have some focus and benchmarks.  I know that no matter what the emergency is, I have a plan.  A not so great plan is a lot better than no plan.  You may hate the idea of hiking to a park where you will camp for the duration of the emergency but when the emergency comes, you know that you can do it.  If you can make it to that park and survive one night, then you have time to come up with the next step of the plan.

Planning for an emergency is hard.  There is no way you can know what emergency is going to affect you.  You don’t know what the weather is going to be like at that time.  You don’t know what kind of emergency services will be available.  You will know that if you can walk x amount of miles, there is a place where you can survive.