Should you have an emergency evacuation plan for your home?
Home emergency evacuation plan

It sounds a bit daunting, and might seem dramatic, but it’s important to know how to evacuate your home in the event of an emergency. In this case, we’ll focus on fire and floods, two potentially-catastrophic events that are becoming more powerful and more frequent. Whether you’re new to your home, or you know the layout like the back of your hand, an easy-to-understand evacuation plan will come in handy.

What is an evacuation plan?

An evacuation plan is exactly what it sounds like: a plan outlining the fastest way out of your house in an emergency. You should create your evacuation plan with different scenarios in mind – for example, if you have a few days to pack up and leave, or if you need to get out immediately. Your plan should include things like how you’ll gather your family members, which supplies to take with you, and where you’ll go once you’re out.

It’s something you should have in place if there’s a catastrophic weather event headed towards your area. You should strongly consider planning ahead if you live near a coast that could be affected by hurricanes, earthquakes or tsunamis, or if you live near a forested area that could be affected by wildfires.

Tips for creating an evacuation plan

  • 1. Print or draw out a floor plan of your home, and walk your family through the layout of each floor. Draw out different routes and consider if certain hallways or doors were blocked at the time of evacuation.
Tip: There are websites where you can download their emergency plan template and “draw” your evacuation plan online.
  • 2. Determine a meeting point for your family somewhere in your neighbourhood – it could be a neighbour’s house across the street, or a stop sign at the end of the road. If the family is out and about when an evacuation alert is given, and you can’t meet at your house, it’s a good idea to have another meeting spot nearby.
  • 3. Communication is key. Make sure your family has a communication plan in place in case someone gets separated. Public safety officials are starting to use smartphones and social media to broadcast evacuation information, so it’s a good idea to understand how to use your phone in an emergency.
Tip: Having a family member’s contact information – who doesn’t live in the same area – will ensure everyone has a point of contact outside of the evacuated area.
  • 4. Keep an emergency kit ready to go. Include a portable radio, a portable phone charger, a flashlight, extra batteries, any necessary medication, non-perishable snacks, water bottles, and pet food. Which brings us to our next point…
Tip: Invest in a water/fireproof safe to keep important documents like your passport, social security cards, birth certificates, etc., which might not be top-of-mind when you’re leaving.
  • 5. Create the plan with your furry family members in mind! Make sure you can safely bring your pet along by ensuring their carriers or leashes are easily accessible.

In the event of an evacuation:

  • Try and make sure your car is filled with gas. If you have enough time to prepare for an evacuation, stop at a gas station and fill up. Depending on the emergency, local gas stations might be closed down during the evacuation period.
  • When leaving your home, follow evacuation routes provided by your municipal government or public safety officials. Some roads might be closed due to fires or flooding and aren’t safe to drive down.
  • If time allows, check to see if your neighbours need help gathering their things and getting out.

Another way you can prepare is to make sure you have the right insurance for your home; if you live near a flood-prone area you might want to ask your insurer about sewer backup or overland water coverage. If you live on a fault line, you might be able to add extra earthquake coverage to your policy. Review your policy and ask your insurer what coverages are available to you that best suit your needs.

Protect your home and the things you love most.