Evacuations are more common than many people realize. They can be prompted by fires, floods, transportation and industrial accidents, the release of harmful or toxic substances and several other emergency situations. When community evacuations become necessary, the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) says local officials provide information to the public through media. In other instances, sirens or telephone calls or sometimes electronic alerts are used to alert the affected areas.
Even though officials work to give residents enough time to connect with their families and move on with procedure, some emergencies necessitate immediate evacuations. That is why planning ahead is essential.
Preparing for an evacuation
Before a storm or another emergency situation hits, residents should have a disaster-supply kit ready to use. The kit can come in handy if your home is subject to an extended power outage, or if you have to leave your home and go to a shelter or another unaffected destination. You and your family should prepare this kit right now, as most emergency don’t allow time to shop or search for needed items.
What if I have to evacuate?RIEMA officials encourage families to develop an evacuation plan in order to be prepared. The following tips were taken from the RIEMA website:
- Know the area: Be familiar with the low lying areas you may live around or have to pass through along your evacuation route. You can learn more by finding your town’s evacuation map by clicking here.
- Do not wait: If possible, leave before local officials issue an evacuation order for your area. Even a slight delay in starting your evacuation will result in significantly longer travel times as traffic congestion worsens.
- Know your destination: In choosing your destination, keep in mind that the hotels and other sheltering options in most inland metropolitan areas are likely to be filled very quickly in the event of a large-scale evacuation situation.
- Plan for traffic: Evacuations typically cause massive delays and major congestion along most designated evacuation routes.
- Phone a friend: If possible, residents are encouraged to make arrangements to stay with a friend or relative who lives outside the affected area. Discuss with your intended host the details of your evacuation plan NOW, so you’ll be ready if and when the time comes.
- Make reservations: If you’re planning on staying in a hotel or motel during an evacuation, you should make reservations as soon as you learn you’ll have to evacuate. The longer you wait, the less likely a reservation will become. If you have pets, make sure your destination will accommodate them.
- Remember the shelters: Be aware of local shelter locations, just in case you can’t find another final destination. But remember: Shelters are not designed for comfort and usually do not accept pets. Bring your disaster supply kit with you.
- Gas up: Make sure you fill up your car’s gas tank at least one day before you evacuate. Otherwise, you may find yourself spending an entire day in a long line at the pump.
- Wait for word: Do not attempt re-entry to an affected area until officials give the all-clear.
How can I stay informed?
During a disaster, affected residents need to stay informed about updates and vital information. One way to do this, assuming you have a way to charge your devices, is to follow informational sources on social media websites such as Twitter.
- RI EMA: Facebook | Twitter
- Gov. McKee: Facebook | Twitter
- RI Government: Facebook | Twitter
- WPRI 12: Facebook | Twitter
- WPRI 12 Pinpoint Weather: Twitter
Do your part
Finally, spread the word. Remember: Even though you were able to find vital information, other affected residents may have missed it. Help the media and local officials spread the information by sharing the news on social media or calling your friends to relay the information.