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National Preparedness Month: Evacuation

Post Date:09/14/2017 4:05 PM

The San Francisco Bay Area is a region that is highly vulnerable to natural hazards such as earthquakes, wildfires, and severe weather. If a large disaster strikes, residents may be directed to evacuate to a safe area.

In some instances, you may have a day or two to prepare, while other situations might call for an immediate evacuation. Planning ahead is vital to ensuring that you can evacuate quickly and safely, no matter what the circumstances. With September being National Preparedness Month, there are numerous resources to pull from to create an emergency evacuation plan with your family. 

Discuss how you will get in touch with each other and where you can meet up, should a disaster strike when you are separated or during school or work hours. Communication networks could be unreliable; as such, make paper copies of all essential contact information for each member of the family. 

As a next step, plan how you will leave and where you will go if you are advised to evacuate. This includes alternate routes and various modes of transportation. When evacuation orders are given, the evacuation routes will be determined by emergency management officials. It is wise to identify several places you could go in an emergency, such as a friend’s home in another city, a motel, or a designated public shelter. Choose destinations in different directions so that you have options during an emergency and, if needed, identify places to stay that will accept pets. 

Planning for the worst means gathering supplies. Assemble a “go-bag” you can carry when you evacuate on foot or public transportation; your bag should have basic supplies such as water, first aid kit, flashlight and extra batteries, non-perishable (or canned) food, and a manual can opener. If you have a personal vehicle and are able to travel longer distances, bring the essential supplies as well as a radio (battery powered or hand crank), sleeping bag or blankets, and other useful tools. Additionally, if you have a car, keep a full tank of gas in it at all times in case of an unexpected need to evacuate. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies and unable to pump gas during power outages.

During an evacuation, listen to a battery-powered radio and follow local evacuation instructions. Do not take shortcuts, as they may be blocked. Further, be alert for road hazards such as washed-out roads or bridges and downed power lines. 

If time allows, secure your home by closing and locking doors and windows. Unplug electrical equipment; leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding. If there is damage to your home and you are instructed to do so, shut off water, gas, and electricity before leaving. 

The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office has created SMCReady, a hub for emergency preparedness. You can also sign up for alert notifications at www.smcalert.info. In the event of a disaster, the site will go into emergency mode and bring you live updates and tweets from around the city, information on missing persons, and ways you can help. Additionally, the City of Millbrae is served by the Central County Fire Department (CCFD). CCFD aims to provide exceptional emergency and non-emergency services to residents; this includes CPR training and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Training for those who would like to plan ahead, as well as first response in the event of a disaster.

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