Do you have an emergency evacuation plan for your home?

John Egan

Most American households have plenty of water, food and prescription medications on hand in case of an emergency, like a tornado or hurricane. But there's one thing that many households lack: written evacuation plans.

A 14-state survey by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC) found that 90 percent of households had three-day supplies of prescription drugs, 83 percent had three-day supplies of food and 54 percent had three-day supplies of water. Yet only 21 percent of households had put emergency evacuation plans in writing.

"Emergency planning should address the care of pets, aiding family members with access and functional needs and safely shutting off utilities," the CDC says. "Practice your plan at least twice a year and update it according to any issues that arise."

Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis and the Baltimore County Fire Department in Maryland offer these tips for putting together an emergency evacuation plan:

• Make the plan large and easy for your children to read. If you have kids who aren't able to read, use drawings instead of words.

• Include each level and every room in your home.

• Identify safe places in your home for different emergencies, such as an interior room or basement for a tornado.

• Designate a meeting place outside your home for the entire family to meet in case of a fire or other emergency. Mark this place on your plan.

• Have your children help you mark two exits a door and a window) from each room in your home in case one exit is blocked.

• Have your children help you draw a path from each room to the safe places and designated meeting place.

• Include local emergency telephone numbers.

• Post the plan somewhere in your home where it can be easily seen.

• Teach family members that once they're out of the house during an emergency, they should stay out. Call 911 from a neighbor's home. Don't waste time saving personal belongings.

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