So what is an evacuation plan? Well, it's a planned out route for you and your family for how you're going to get out of your home--even kids practice them at school, and people practice them at work. So we are very comfortable, especially children, with what an evacuation plan is. Just ask them if they've practiced their fire drill or their earthquake drill, and they'll get excited to tell you what it is. You might even use that to base your own plan off of--what do they do? Well, when the alarm sounds, for example the smoke alarm, you want to get up and follow a predetermined route out to a determined meeting place. That's what they do in school--they get up, they go safely out the front door, and they go to their meeting place with their classroom. Just like your child has at school--a fire evacuation plan that they practice--you want to have that at home, too. An evacuation route for how to get safely out of the home, and a meeting place for where you're going to find each other after that. A good rule of thumb is to have two of each: two evacuation routes, because one might be blocked; two emergency meeting places, because the disaster might be small, like a home fire where you just have to get outside, or big, like a gas leak or flood, and you need to little bit further outside the affected area; you practice that two times a year, because our plans can change. Your first route may not be an option anymore--you might have remodeled the home or moved to a different location. Practice, practice, practice. For those groups that might need additional assistance--grandparents with access and functional needs, very young children who can't evacuate independently, even your pets, who are members of the family too--you want to practice to make sure that you have plans in place for them. If a child can't evacuate on their own, whose responsibility is it to go check on that child and to get them out safely? If you have a grandparent who has access and functional needs, and needs additional assistance getting downstairs or outside of the building, who's going to help them evacuate as well?
We practice now so that we know, and don't waste time, during an actual emergency, getting people out as safely as possible. During an emergency, we want to react as quickly and as safely as we possibly can. One piece to that puzzle is knowing your closest resources and identifying them before the emergency exists--knowing your closest police station, fire station, and hospital. Now we rely on GPS quite a lot these days, but if you didn't have access to that, would you know how to get there--from home, from work, or from your children's school? Take the time--you have it now--to find out your closest locations of each of those things, write it down, and know how to get there as fast as possible.
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