How to Evacuate Safely for a Disaster During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Getting prepared for disaster season can be nerve-racking, even more so depending on where you live — hurricane, wildfire-prone areas and flood zones all require having a plan in place. With the COVID-19 pandemic having disrupted our concept of “normal,” disaster planning now includes thinking through health and safety protocols. We have to rethink how we manage and prepare for all kinds of scenarios. Even with the pandemic as a factor, having the best plan possible as early as possible is the key to staying safe.
Plan with whom you will evacuate. Stay with your family or make a plan to evacuate with a “social circle” of people who’ve been observing the same isolation protocols.
- Clean and sanitize the vehicle in which you will be traveling.
- Bring additional masks and hand sanitizer in case these items are lost in transitions.
Plan for other disaster-related contingencies.
- Be sure to fill your car with gas early.
- Visit the ATM in advance and get enough cash for two to three days.
- Make a plan to reconnect with loved ones before disaster strikes.
For disasters and any other event in which family members can get separated, I also recommend taking a luggage tag or index card in a sandwich bag and writing the names, address, phone number and physical description of everyone for each member in your group. Why? In the event a child or an elderly person, who has memory issues or hasn’t learned these details because of age, becomes lost it makes it easier for police and emergency management professionals to reconnect them with family members.
Shelter in Place Safely
If you cannot evacuate and have to shelter in place:
- Fill large containers with clean drinking water. It is also helpful to have disinfecting bleach in your preparedness kit and to follow directions on the label for how to disinfect water for potability should your water source become compromised after the storm — read how here.
- Charge all your devices and use them sparingly.
- Purchase a wireless radio and manual can opener in advance to keep on hand, if you can.
Post-Event Recovery Tips
If you return home to mold or mildew, use a bleach and water solution to disinfect walls, floors and tiles. You can also sanitize bleach-safe clothing and linens by adding to your laundry. In a COVID-19 environment, be sure to wear a mask when interacting with neighbors and conducting any group cleanup efforts in your neighborhood.
My final tip, whether you evacuate or shelter in place, is to be prepared. Staying prepared and informed is the best way to be safe and well during disaster season and for dealing with COVID-19.