Evacuation Plan: Tips for Your Home Study

Did you know that a home evacuation plan is a part of preparing your adoption home study?

This is a guest post by Benson Marshall.

I’m a Prepper, He’s a Prepper, She’s a Prepper Too.

(If you grew up in the 80s you’ll get that play on words, if not look up old Dr. Pepper advertising campaigns.)

My wife did most of our adoption paperwork. Not technically all, but a solid 98%. My contribution was a specific part of our home study…the emergency plan!…dun Dun DUNNN…

I didn’t just fill out the form, I totally geeked out over it! I was pretty excited that I had an excuse to write a detailed evacuation plan. Now, before I get a reputation I don’t quite deserve, I don’t consider myself a Prepper. But I do believe that, as the saying goes, luck favors the prepared.

Adoption Home Study

With all that you have on your plate as a prospective adoptive person, I can see this detail going one of two ways. One, it’s a point of stress (and who needs more of that?) or two, it’s a detail that gets brushed aside, not given the consideration it deserves. So here are some tips and things to consider as you take on this task.

Not all home studies are the same, but ours asked us to write out an evacuation plan complete with a diagram of our house. I’m lucky enough to have a small amount of drafting experience so the diagram wasn’t too difficult. If you’re not sure how to draw out the floor plan of your residence I would suggest asking around for help. Having your floor plan on paper is a great tool for planning and practicing your evacuation route.

And don’t underestimate the value of tracing out your route on your diagram. Especially for kids! If an emergency or even an urgent situation comes up this exercise can help keep you calm and focused. Consider rope ladders for second-story bedrooms. Sometimes the best exit is a window.

And every evacuation route needs a destination… two actually. A primary and secondary meeting place. Make them obvious and safe. So, not in the middle of the street, but not behind the big oak tree either. If you have a large property you might consider primary and secondary meeting places in the front AND the back of the house. And don’t neglect to practice! Thirty minutes once a month goes a long way towards developing a peace of mind that is priceless.

Now, this is the point at which I started geeking out. Our agency requested an evacuation plan from the house. But what if there is a gas leak in your neighborhood? What if the situation requires you to leave the area altogether? What if you are at work and they are at the mall? Ok, no one goes to the mall anymore, but I think you get what I’m saying.

So, a primary and secondary off-site meeting place…if you need to leave the neighborhood. But if you need to leave the area?…will you be heading north, south, east, or west? And if you’re leaving the area you probably won’t be coming right back. So, four hotels (pet-friendly in our case) one in each direction 50 miles or so out. Right about now you’re probably sorry you started reading this post…I told you I Geeked OUT!!

But don’t let my writing style scare you off. If I didn’t truly believe in the value of being prepared, I wouldn’t have brought it up in the first place. And being prepared to this degree doesn’t mean weeks of planning and monthly strategy meetings. Take thirty minutes, 45 tops and pick a neighborhood hotel. Then pick four more, one in each direction, write down their addresses and phone numbers and you’re basically done.

If you are all together, go together, if you’re not, plan to meet there. Pretty simple. And if YOU want to geek out…consider putting together a simple ‘go bag’. Water and a change of clothes for each family member…maybe a hand crank radio…plenty of info on the web to help with that detail.

Last piece of advice…talk about what to do now, don’t put it off. And rehearse your plans once a month. If you want to do a weekend-long dress rehearsal…. well, you do you! But personally, I think thirty minutes once a month to keep the plan from going stale is just being smart.

So, lets recap…it doesn’t need to be stressful, it is important, and it won’t take lots of time…unless you geek out like I did…

For more information on the home-study process, check out this post.

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