Tips You Should Consider When Planning for an Evacuation in Your HOA
While it’s true that prepping for a disaster makes us feel uneasy, to say the least, all HOA members (board, and otherwise) must have a fully developed evacuation and disaster management plan available. In stressful situations, it’s difficult to think clearly – let alone improvise. There will be little to no room for mistakes, which is why, in this guide, you’ll learn everything you need about evacuation planning, how to design one specifically for your HOA, and, most importantly, how to put it into practice.
According to the official DoHS (Department of Homeland Security) division, Ready.gov, an effective evacuation plan should consist of three parts: preemptive action course, during disaster action course, and post-evacuation action course.
Before an Evacuation – What To Do.
One of the first things you need to analyze is the type of disasters that are more likely to hit your community and prepare for each particular scenario. Just in 2019, there were more than 8,000 fires in the state of California.
The Golden State is also highly prone to earthquakes and floods. These are only a few scenarios you need to evaluate, but whichever the case may be, here is a list of steps to take for preemptive measures:
- ESCAPE PLANNING: know exactly where you will go and how you will leave the premises when the evacuation begins.
- KNOW YOUR OPTIONS: we strongly recommend you have several safe places in mind, scattered in different directions. If you have pets, make sure these shelters are pet-friendly.
- KNOW YOUR ENVIRONMENT: now and then, you should take these escape routes with your family to familiarize yourself with them.
- REUNIFICATION STRATEGY: there is always a chance you’ll become separated from your family. All members should know how to communicate and where to reunite, should this happen.
- SUPPLY MANAGEMENT: keep go-bags readily available, as well as extra gas cans and first-aid kits.
During an Evacuation – What To Do.
- At the FEMA mobile app, you can find a list of available shelters in your area, in case your predefined options are not available anymore.
- Tune in with local radios and emergency broadcasts to get updated information.
- Take what you consider to be essential, and nothing more. Prepping your emergency kits beforehand is a great way to rest assured you will have everything you need.
- Contact other family members (or at least post that information publicly using social media), so people know where you are and where you’re going.
- Secure your home and unplug any electrical devices (including fridges and freezers in case of floods). If a member of your HOA instructs you to, then completely shut off your water, gas, and electricity supply.
- Check for neighbors who might need a ride and try to stick to the main roads – shortcuts might be faster, but there is always a risk they become blocked.
After an Evacuation – What to Do.
Once the storm has passed, there are some topics you need to address as part of the recovery process – whether you’re a part of the HOA board or not.
- INSURANCE: know your insurance policy beforehand and query your provider to understand their process, from start to finish.
- BOARD RESPONSIBILITIES: every board member should have specific tasks predefined so that when the time comes, they all know what to do and how to act.
- KNOW YOUR ANSWERS: as HOA board members, you must know how to answer some questions, such as when the families can return to their units, or when they will perform the damage inspections, and what the board’s liability is.