Evacuation: Plan Before Leaving the Safety of Your Home
When community evacuations become necessary, local officials provide information to the public through the media. In some circumstances, other warning methods, such as sirens or telephone calls, also are used. Additionally, there may be circumstances under which you and your family feel threatened or endangered and you need to leave your home, school, or workplace to avoid these situations.
The amount of time you have to leave will depend on the hazard. If the event is a weather condition, such as a hurricane that can be monitored, you might have a day or two to get ready. However, many disasters allow no time for people to gather even the most basic necessities, which is why planning ahead is essential.
Evacuations during a disaster are a common event. Evacuation procedures vary by location and disaster. Contact your local emergency management or civil defense office for specific evacuation plans.
The amount of time you will have to evacuate depends on the disaster. Some disasters, such as hurricanes, may allow several days to prepare. Hazardous materials accidents may only allow moments to leave. This means that preparation is essential since there may not be time to collect the basic necessities.
Evacuations can last for several days. During this time you may be responsible for part or all of your own water, food, clothing and other supplies.
Preparing for Evacuation
Advance planning will make evacuation procedures easier. First, you should have your family disaster supply kit and plan ready. Additional steps that can aid preparedness include:
1. Review possible evacuation procedures with your family.
- Ask a friend or relative outside your area to be the check-in contact so that everyone in the family can call that person to say they are safe.
- Find out where children will be sent if they are in school when an evacuation is announced.
2. Plan now where you would go if you had to evacuate.
- Consider the homes of relatives or friends who live nearby, but outside the area of potential disaster.
- Contact the local emergency management office for community evacuation plans.
- Review public information to identify reception areas and shelter areas.
3. Keep fuel in your car's gas tank at all times. During emergencies, filling stations may be closed. Never store extra fuel in the garage.
4. If you do not have a car or other vehicle, make transportation arrangements with friends, neighbors or your local emergency management office.
5. Know where and how to shut off electricity, gas and water at main switches and valves. Make sure you have the tools you need to do this (usually pipe and crescent or adjustable wrenches). Check with your local utilities for instructions.
When you are told to evacuate there are some steps you need to take:
If there is time, secure your house.
- Unplug appliances.
- Turn off the main water valve.
- Take any actions needed to prevent damage to water pipes by freezing weather, if this is a threat.
- Securely close and lock all doors, windows and garage.
Additionally, if time permits, you will want to perform the following:
- Check with neighbors who may need assistance and/or rides.
- Follow recommended evacuation routes. Do not take shortcuts, they may be blocked.
- Listen to the radio for emergency shelter information.
- Call or email your out-of-area contacts about your plans.
Be prepared. Be calm. Be a survivor.