Building Safety Month: Evacuation Planning!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Were you and your family woken up by the earthquake that happened on May 1, 2022 here in Mount Vernon? Some described feeling a shake and hearing a loud explosion-like noise.  

If you felt the earthquake, what was the first thought that came to mind? Did you know what you and your family would do in case an evacuation was needed?  

This May, join Public Health and the International Code Council in commemorating Building Safety Month. This year, Building Safety Month is focusing on safety for all building codes in action. Help us educate and spread awareness about how to properly evacuate a building or home in case of an emergency.  

Preparing an effective evacuation plan is important. The worst mistake that you can make is waiting until the last minute to get prepared. Here are some helpful preparedness tips for you and your family on how to evacuate a building, including your home, in case of an emergency.  

At your home: 

  • Arrange your evacuation plan ahead of time. For tips on creating a plan, go to: Five Steps to preparing an effective evacuation plan | III.   
  • Sit down with your household and discuss clear exit points located in your home.  
  • Come up with a meeting point outside of your home in case you must evacuate.   
  • Remove any objects or furniture that are blocking exit ways. 
  • Make clear pathways to all exits. 
  • Make sure family members know how to unlock and open windows and doors. 
  • Have a plan for evacuating your pets, as well!  

In a building:  

  • Learn about your emergency exit routes and know where a building map is located. Talk with your employer about their approved evacuation/safety plan.  
  • If working in the building, safely stop your work. 
  • Leave the building through the nearest door with an exit. 
  • Wait for instructions from emergency responders.  

Why is it important? 

Being prepared and planning ahead can save lives during an emergency. Not only that, but it can also prevent you from feeling overwhelmed or scared. After all, having a plan will give you the confidence you need in order to activate during an emergency situation.  

Support Building Safety Month  

  • Educate Your Community  
  • Visit buildingsafetymonth.org to find the online campaign toolkit, safety tip sheets and kids’ corner materials.  
  • Issue a Proclamation  
  • Ask your city official to sign a proclamation.  
  • Promote  
  • Hand out Building Safety Month materials to your community, family, and friends. For print copies of brochures, pencils and more, you can visit the Code Council store

For more resources please visit: 

Evacuation | Ready.gov 

Five Steps to preparing an effective evacuation plan | III 

Building Evacuation Procedures (ucsd.edu) 

BUILDING SAFETY MONTH -May 2022 – National Today 

2022 Building Safety Month – ICC (iccsafe.org) 

Magnitude 3.6 earthquake shakes Mount Vernon | king5.com 


Be Prepared If You Have To Go

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Guest post by Skagit County Emergency Management

Right now, we’re all reminded of the power of nature. The West Coast is experiencing historic wildfires, and the Gulf Coast is reeling from an unusually active hurricane season. Even though the thought of needing to evacuate your home might be stressful, it’s important to prepare for that possibility now. Planning ahead can reduce anxiety. Being prepared and knowing what to do will help you when a major disaster strikes.

In recent months, we’ve been reminded of how important it is to have items stocked and ready, from food and water to face masks. It’s good to have supplies if you can’t leave your house, but what happens if you can’t stay there? There are steps you can take now to prepare, such as having a Go Bag ready in case you need to leave your home, and establishing a game plan for when it’s time to go. What do you take if you have 5, 10 or 30 minutes to evacuate? Have some bare necessities ready to go, and know what you’ll grab if you have time.

What can you do now?

Know when it’s time to go—sign up for alerts and warnings. Skagit County uses CodeRED for local emergencies and alerts. NOAA weather alerts are available, and many weather apps can be set to notify you of new alerts. If you travel to an area outside the county on a regular basis, check with the emergency management for the local area and sign up for alerts there as well.

Document your property with pictures or create a video with details about special items. Send the files to your email or an internet cloud location like Dropbox so you can access it from anywhere, and consider sending it to your emergency contact person to store.

Build a Go Bag for each person. Use a backpack or plastic tote that is small enough to be easily handled by one person. Everyone has a different set of priorities for items to include, so cover your high priorities first. If you have kids, let them help build their Go Bag, and let them choose some of the things that go in it so they have ownership of it. First things first, though—ALWAYS know where your wallet and cell phone are!

Priority items to have in Go Bags:

  • Face masks and hand sanitizer for everyone
  • Nonperishable food and manual can opener—replace food every 6 months
  • 1 gallon of water per person per day and/or a way to sanitize water to be drinkable
  • Essential medications
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Personal hygiene items, including toilet paper
  • Important documents stored in a waterproof container: think identification, medical and financial essentials, such as an emergency contact list, insurance papers, birth certificates, driver’s license, marriage license, list of important numbers like social security, credit cards, bank accounts, vehicle and property paperwork
  • Consider special needs in your household, such as elderly, infant, access and functional needs, pets—each may have special medical needs, specific food needs, supplies, and records
  • Radio and extra batteries
  • Small comfort item, like a copy of your favorite family photo or a small stuffed animal
  • Other items to consider:
    • Money, checks, credit card
    • Sturdy shoes
    • Change of clothes
    • Sleeping bag/blanket
    • Cell phone charger
    • Whistle
    • Garbage and zip-top bags
    • Bleach
    • Matches
    • Picnic items or camp mess kits to eat from

What do you do when it’s time to go?

If there is no time, remember People, Pets, and Packs. Grab your people, your pets and your Go Bag and GO! In some emergencies, there is no time to get more. You need to get to a safe area as quickly as possible. Your life can not be replaced.

If you have 5 minutes: Add essential medical equipment, non-vital medications, glasses, laptop and charger, and any items from the list above that aren’t already in your Go Bag.

If you have 30 minutes and room in your vehicle: Add treasured family items, individual emotional comfort items, changes of clothes, and computer backups. Prepare your home as much as you can in the time you have: turn off utilities, move furniture depending on the reason for evacuation (fire: away from walls, flood: off the floor), move things that can catch fire or explode under heat away from your house, such as vehicles, grills, and firewood.

Every step you take today helps to mitigate the effects of large scale events on our families and communities. Make a game of drilling your family on what to take during an emergency—have them run around and put a sticker on what they consider the most important items while you time them. Make a list of those items and put the list in a zip-top bag attached to the front of your Go Bag. Knowing when to leave and what you will take during an emergency can give you one less thing to worry about in today’s world.

Resources:

Redcross.org

Ready.gov