You won't see many of them while you're driving around looking at wedding dresses in Saskatchewan, but if you're traveling in countries like the United States or Japan, you may notice blue signs along the roadway advertising evacuation routes. If you're wondering what they're for, this article should be able to help you. It's all about evacuation routes - why they exist, where they go, and what you should do if you ever have the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In areas where natural disasters are common, governments often issue evacuation orders to the local populace, asking them to move to safer ground until the disaster is over. Certain roadways are designated as evacuation routes and marked with blue signs in order to control the traffic flow and help direct drivers to the safe areas when they're not familiar with the region, probably don't have a map, and would otherwise get lost. Often there are multiple evacuation routes and destinations to avoid gridlocking the highways with refugees.

The winter high tides that sometimes threaten beach homes are not severe enough to warrant an evacuation. The most common types of natural disasters that require the marking of a designated evacuation route are hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and wildfires because it is usually possible for authorities to give some sort of warning about their approach, unlike tornadoes and earthquakes, which are generally a surprise.

An example of a typical evacuation route sign

If you are vacationing in an area that has evacuation route signs, it's always a good idea to regularly listen to the radio or television news, just in case a natural disaster happens to be approaching and it's a good idea for you to flee back home. Most often evacuation routes will also be signposted with a radio station that you should listen to in the event of an emergency which will give you information about the disaster's reach and where to go to find shelter or assistance.

If an evacuation order is issued, follow it immediately. Put aside the house plans you're working on, grab your emergency kit (should contain food, water, flashlights, medication, blankets, first aid kit, etc), bundle your family into the car, and follow the evacuation route signs. Try not to be frustrated with traffic, as everyone else will be doing the same thing. The police will be doing their best to direct traffic and urge people to leave. Assist them by going about the evacuation calmly.

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