How to Evacuate Safely During COVID

Ellen P LaFleche-Christian

Are you wondering how to evacuate safely during COVID? Evacuation during a pandemic is definitely a challenge. But by following a few of these tips, you can better make sure that your family is safe and protected.

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The pandemic is enough of a natural emergency to have to deal with. But, when you add in having to leave your home due to fire, tornado, or hurricane, it just adds another level of difficulty to the problem.

While I have hope that legislators will take steps to mitigate climate change so we have fewer disasters, even people like Nancy Pelosi seem quiet on the climate crisis.

Evacuating means leaving the safe space of your home and going to another location. And, in many cases, that other location is filled with other people.

The first thing that you need to do to be prepared is to have an emergency preparedness plan. That way, when you are faced with the need to leave your home suddenly, you have a plan in place for what to do.

Prepare to evacuate

The worst time to prepare to evacuate is when you have an emergency. Take time today to make a simple evacuation plan with your family. Gather some basic supplies for your go kit. And think about where you will go if an emergency does happen.

Don't wait until the last minute to put your plan in place. It may not be possible to find everything you need in the middle of an emergency.

Look into local emergency shelters. Check with relatives that are within driving distance of your home. Make a list of local motels that you could go to quickly if you need to get out of the immediate area of your home.

Keep in mind that emergency shelters will be the worst places to go to. Social distancing in a large facility with hundreds of other people won't be easy.

If you can afford it and have the option available, it will be much better to go to a motel or to a friend or relative's home. You will be exposed to far fewer people that way.

Don't forget to have a plan in place to evacuate your pets. Never leave pets behind in an emergency.

Sign up for emergency alerts

You can get an NOAA weather radio for weather alerts. Or, just sign up for the emergency phone alerts through your cell phone. This way you will be aware of weather emergencies as quickly as possible.

Getting out of your immediate area as soon as an emergency is declared is much easier than waiting several hours and fighting the traffic.

Stock your bug out bag or go bag

As part of your emergency plan, you should have supplies ready in case you need to leave in an emergency. These supplies are referred to as a bug out bag or go bag.

To be prepared for COVID social distancing, it's important that you add in a few extras to your standard prepping supplies. At a minimum, I would recommend:

  • 2 masks per person. N95 masks are best if you can find them.
  • Liquid soap for your hands
  • Antibacterial wipes for surfaces and for your hands
  • Hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol content
  • Disposable plastic gloves
  • Sealable plastic bag

If your mask gets wet or dirty, remove it immediately and place it in a sealable plastic bag. Replace it with a fresh mask until you can wash and dry the other one.

Follow the rules of your assigned shelter

If a shelter has been assigned to you by your local government, find out what their rules are as far as social distancing and staying safe. Be sure that you understand and follow the rules.

And, make sure that you talk to the kids about what's expected. They may think that if they see their friends or neighbors there it's OK to talk to them and play with them. This might not be safe during a COVID outbreak.

Clean and disinfect surfaces regularly. This includes things like doorknobs, toys, handrails, and water faucets.

Social distance on public transportation

Staying 6 feet apart from everyone may not be possible if you are forced to flee on public transportation. Crowded busses, subways, or trains aren't known for having a lot of extra room.

But, there are steps you can take if you have to rely on public transportation to evacuate.

  • Always wear the best quality mask that you have available. Your mask must cover your nose and your mouth.
  • Use disposable gloves when you need to touch any common areas.
  • Keep your hands away from your face at all times.
  • Do not put your hands on railings, poles, or armrests unless absolutely necessary.
  • If you need to touch these surfaces, use hand sanitizer as soon as you are in your seat.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow. If you must use a tissue, throw it away as soon as possible. Do not put it in your pocket.

If possible, try to find a seat in a place that is as far away from others as possible. A corner seat will expose you to fewer people than one that is in the middle of the bus or train.

Consider the weather when choosing how to evacuate. Evacuating in a blizzard will be more difficult than evacuating in nicer weather.

Evacuating when sick

It's not ideal. But, if you do have COVID while you need to evacuate, you need to take special precautions.

Be sure that the shelter you evacuate to knows that you are sick. Many have a special area set aside for those that have symptoms or have tested positive.

This may mean separating from other members of your family. If they are not sick, they should not be in the same area you are in.

Unless absolutely necessary, you should not use public transportation to evacuate. If necessary, be sure to use a mask and keep gloves on. Do not touch common surfaces to avoid infecting others.

Only evacuate when necessary

You should never stay home if you feel unsafe there. But, consider not evacuating unless it is recommended by your local or state government.

When it comes to evacuating safely during COVID, it's always much easier to stay at home to avoid getting infected.

If it is recommended that you leave, follow these tips to stay safe.

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Country living content creator with a passion for preparedness and natural living. I share simple steps anyone can take to become more self sufficient and more aware of your surroundings. Check out my easy recipes, essential oil crafts, and healthy living tips.

Castleton, VT

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