How to Make a Home Evacuation Plan in 6 Steps

Lydia Schapiro
Written by Lydia Schapiro
Updated December 17, 2021
The exterior of a house with a beautiful garden
Photo: tab62 / Adobe Stock


  • It’s important to have a home evacuation plan if disaster strikes

  • There are several precautionary measures you can take when planning 

  • Having a plan will allow you to be less panicked in the event of an emergency

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Whether you are preparing for a flood or getting ready for a hurricane, it’s always smart to have an emergency escape plan. You can use your home evacuation plan as a tool to map out what to do in case disaster strikes. This will reduce stress and panic that could arise in an evacuation situation. 

1. Discuss Your Home’s Layout and Escape Routes

First things first, you’ll want to sketch a map of your home’s layout. Hold a family meeting and familiarize yourselves with the map. You can use colored markers or pencils to make it clearer. 

To illustrate escape routes, draw lines going from each part of your home to the closest exit route. Draw alternate routes (if possible) through windows in case the main routes are blocked in a given situation. To make sure your home evacuation plan is etched into everyone’s minds, hang it up where everyone can see it on a daily basis.

Perhaps you divide up responsibilities in an evacuation plan. For instance, people may need to be tasked with getting pets or children out or calling 9-1-1.

2. Decide on a Place to Meet Your Family

After you’ve come up with your evacuation plan, whether it’s for a fire or how to prepare for a hurricane, it’s time to decide on the next step. Designate meeting places for the family to safely gather—this place should be a safe distance away from your home. Draw this spot on your plan.

You’ll also want to come up with another safe space to meet since there might be emergencies where you can’t be close to the house or you need to take shelter. Brainstorm and figure out a place you can go if the family is asked to evacuate and you cannot return home.

3. Gather Important Documents

To help stay organized and reduce stress in the event of an emergency, keep your important documents in a safe place that’s easily accessible. If you can, make digital copies and keep them on some type of drive. 

 These documents may include:

  • Birth and marriage certificates

  • Passports

  • Drivers licenses

  • Social Security cards

  • Insurance Forms

  • Employment information

  • Wills

  • Stocks and bonds

  • Financial information

4. Consider Unique Needs in the Family

If you have any family members who will require specific accommodations, consider them in making your evacuation plan. This may be anyone with disabilities, infants, or someone with a medical condition. 

Don’t forget about your pets! If your pets have special needs, make sure you take them into account when creating your plan. 

5. Decide What to Do if You Get Separated

A family of four discussing an evacuation plan
Photo: David Pereiras / Adobe Stock

No one wants to think about the prospect of getting separated in an emergency, but recognizing this possibility is another way to reduce stress in any given situation. As a family, decide on two places to meet up. 

One should be right outside your home, and the other should be outside your neighborhood in the case you aren’t able to return/are asked to evacuate. 

Figure out the best out-of-area emergency contact person that everyone can contact. Everyone should have this person’s contact information. You can also be extra cautious by providing the people who are with your children on a day-to-day basis such as teachers, principals, or daycare directors. 

6. Create a Designated Evacuation Kit

Creating a designated evacuation kit is a great way to make sure you’ll have everything you need in your home evacuation plan. The kit should hold any items that’ll help you survive for at least 72 hours.

 Some potential items may be:

  • Prescriptions

  • Instant formulas and diapers

  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person

  • Water (enough for a few days)

  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio

  • Flashlight 

  • Whistle (that you can signal for help)

  • First-aid kit

  • Moist towelettes 

  • Local maps

Every year you should replace expired items and update what you have in your kit as your family’s needs change.

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