Evacuations: Comparing Your Plans With Government Recommendations

Evacuations:  Comparing Your Plans With Government Recommendations


The government provides some basic recommendations with respect to how to prepare for and conduct an evacuation.  Most of the advice makes sense and is reasonable.  However, following some suggestions may or may not be the best course of action to take.  It’s important that you weigh the pros and cons of your own plans versus what the government suggests in order to make the best possible choices.

Sound Advice

Let’s talk about things that are sensible and practical first.  The government recommends that you keep your vehicle well-maintained and have a full tank of gas in case service stations are closed or inaccessible.  You should also have a relevant vehicle survival kit.  The government also recommends that you form a communication plan and establish meeting points before disaster strikes.  This is important because you want to be able to round up your family and get out of the area as quickly as possible.  Recommendations also suggest that you have battery powered radio in order to have access to important information.  This is also good as it gives you an extra layer of redundancy.

If time permits, the government recommends that you contact out of town friends or relatives and let them know that you are evacuating.  You should also have a number of destinations in mind before you evacuate.  This could be a shelter, home of a relative or friend or hotel that is away from the affected area.  They also advise people to leave as early as possible in order to ensure they get out of danger and avoid being caught up in the congestion associated with a mass evacuation. 

The government also suggests that you should develop an evacuation plan if you don’t have transportation.  This can be in the form of making arrangements with neighbors, nearby family members or contacting your local government or emergency management agency to establish how you will get transported from your house to safety.  This is very important in order to avoid confusion or running the risk of being left behind. 

Questionable Advice

The government suggests that you leave a note in your home indicating when you left and where you are going.  This makes sense as a way to be able to locate you if you don’t arrive at your destination.  However, doing this can also put you and your family at risk.  Imagine a situation like Hurricane Katrina and all of the violence and crime that erupted in the aftermath of that disaster.  Do you really want some looter coming into your house and learning where you are going?  Only you can decide whether or not this is a good idea based on your unique circumstances.

Evacuation Route sign, Florida, USA

Another recommendation is that you should follow published evacuation routes and avoid taking shortcuts.  At the same time, the government suggests that you should become familiar with alternate routes.  This sounds like a mixed message and may lead to confusion.  First, there’s no guarantee that the published evacuation route will be the best one to take.  There is also no guarantee that choosing your own way is a bad idea.  The best advice may be to assess the situation as it unfolds, listen for any updates from authorities and then make your decision. 

Finally, the government suggests that you check with neighbors who may need a ride.  On one hand, this is helpful and the neighborly thing to do.  On the other hand, you will need to adapt your overall survival plans to accommodate the extra people.  Additionally, you may be going in an entirely different direction or to a destination that is nowhere near where they would like to be transported.  These are just a few examples of some of the things that you may need to contend with by taking extra people with you.  It makes more sense to talk about these things and work out details before an evacuation to avoid any unexpected surprises or potential problems if you decide to offer help.

These are just a few examples of the potential problems associated with blindly following the advice of the government or authorities.  At the end of the day, you need to make decisions that are best for you and your family.  Make sure to consider all of your options and act accordingly in order to protect your interests and stay safe.  The important thing is to have a plan in place, along with some alternatives, in order to be able to get your family together and leave the area as quickly as possible. 

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