Do you remember the last time you were in a really awful traffic jam? Getting stuck in backed up traffic is one thing I dread most about going downtown to a baseball game. Now imagine what a mass exodus from your neighborhood, town or city would be like if a disaster of any type hit. Thousands of panicked people hitting the streets and freeways all at once is a disaster waiting to happen. Throw in some winter weather, summer heat, and woefully unprepared motorists, and the result could be a deathtrap.
There are two ways to avoid this scenario. One is to evacuate ahead of the crowds. Use your own judgment, and trust your instincts. Be ready with packed luggage, pet carriers, food, water and a plan. If you wait until government officials say, "Go!", you've waited too long. You will almost certainly have to deal with massive crowds of people all headed in the same direction.
A second way to avoid being trapped in an evacuation is to have several pre-planned Emergency Exits that will get you safely from Point A to Point B. Ideally, those routes will include detours. It's very likely that your planned route will run into unforeseen obstacles, and you'll have to make swift adjustments to your route.
Right now, could you identfy at least three ways to make an emergency exit from your town or city? If you were miles from home and had to evacuate, what route would you take and where would you go? What if you were at work and needed to get home to your family? Do you know several routes you could take in case you hit any roadblocks?
Here are eight steps to help insure a safe and speedy evacuation.
- Get a detailed road map of your area and road maps for neighboring states.
- Determine at least one destination, a place at least 100 miles from your home, as your safe place.
- With your maps and a marker, identify various routes you could take from your home to your destination. Look for possible detours in case you hit a roadblock or standstill traffic. Events such as earthquakes and violent storms quickly result in roadblocks.
- Using a city map, identify at least three different routes you could take from your place of work to your home.
- Take time to actually travel each route you have plotted out. Watch for potential problem areas, such as water routes that may fill to overflowing in a flood.
- Label each route you have planned. In an emergency, you can communicate to family members, "We'll be taking Route A," for example.
- Make more than one copy of your planned Emergency Exits. Store copies in each vehicle, each workplace, at home, and at least one with an out-of-town friend or relative.
- Make a plan to get additional fuel for your vehicle. In emergencies, gas stations quickly run out of gas. In the event of an electrical outage, gas pumps don't work!
Take the time to plan Emergency Exits for you and your family. They might come in handy the next time you're caught in a traffic jam, and in the case of a true emergency, they could be a life saver.