When you’re instructed to evacuate your home in advance of extreme weather, it’s easy to panic and not know what to do. While you should have an evacuation plan already set up in advance, as well as a waterproof box of supplies to carry with you when you leave, you might not have thought about the ways you’ll prepare your home before you go.
Knowing what to do with your home before you go is vital. Make yourself a checklist of items that need to be addressed, and get to them in order of importance. The less time you take on these kinds of preparations, the better.
Before you do anything relating to your home when you receive an evacuation order, first ascertain how much time you have before the extreme weather arrives. Is the warning about rising floodwaters that will reach you in a matter of minutes? Or is it an intense storm that will be coming in twelve hours? Sometimes, weather strikes without warning, and you have to flee the area as soon as possible.
If you don’t have time to do anything but flee, grab your supplies, secure your family and pets, and leave along your evacuation route. Don’t waste time securing your home. Possessions can be replaced; family can’t.
If you have a bit of time to prepare your things, start with the most critical items. If you have multiple stories, you could consider moving your valuables to a higher floor in case of flooding. Any unique items, irreplaceable heirlooms, and high-end electronics that can easily fit in your car can be safely brought out with you.
As for preparation for your home, make sure you tightly shut all windows, lock all the doors, and don’t leave any outdoor furniture outside. If you have a pool, cover it. Lock your back gate, cut all the power to the house, and cut off things like the natural gas valve and water. This prevents the weather from potentially causing severe damage to your home through your utilities.
Don’t get so caught up in preparing your home that you forget to prepare your family. Medication, clean clothes, bottled water, and the like are all necessary to remember before evacuating. Anything you literally can’t do without for more than a few hours should be stored in your vehicle before you evacuate. Remember: heed the warnings and advice of local authorities and be ready to check the radio for updates on the weather.