Preparing an Evacuation Plan

Barbara Salsbury, author of “it’s Time to Plan Not Panic” helps analyze the risk of both natural and/or man-made disasters with her five-mile rule.


In March 2005 close to eight thousand people were evacuated after a toxic chemical spill at the Union Pacific train yard in Salt Lake County. It’s the kind of emergency that’s often overlooked as we prepare for potential emergencies, but having the foresight to assess such problems provides the foundation for preparedness.

“Analyze the risks in your area. Assess your neighborhood so that you can plan, not panic. As you become aware of the problems that could occur in your neighborhood, the chance that you could be forced to evacuate your home will most likely be brought sharply into focus. When you combine these problems with the possibility of natural disasters, your understanding of the need to prepare an individual evacuation plan and kit becomes even more pronounced. The more detailed your research, the better prepared you will be. Go out into your neighborhood to see what is there. One suggestion is to make your evaluation a family activity, or get together with a neighbor or roommate to survey the situation. If you belong to a neighborhood association, plot the area on a map, accept assignments to divide up the territory, do the research, and share the information. Memory may not be reliable; changes occur constantly. Familiarity allows you to gaze at a scene without recognizing the details of what you are looking at. Look at businesses, such as the common gas station or paint store, with a different perspective. Keep in mind this is planning, not panic. It is simply having the foresight to assess a potential problem and deal with it! As you recognize the existence of the situation or facilities in your area, make note of the specific problems that could arise.” (Taken from It’s Time to Plan, Not Panic; Barbara Salsbury; Cedar Fort Publishing, 2006.)


Barbara Salsbury is a nationally recognized personal-preparedness expert and is one of America’s leading authorities on self-reliance. She is the author of “It’s Time to Plan, Not Panic” and the “Preparedness Principles”.

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