Prepare now in the event of an evacuation.
Evacuations are more common than many people realize. Fires and floods cause evacuations most frequently across the U.S. In addition, hundreds of times a year, transportation and industrial accidents release harmful substances, forcing many people to leave their homes.
In some circumstances, local officials decide that the hazards are serious and require mandatory evacuations. In others, evacuations are advised or households decide to evacuate to avoid situations they believe are potentially dangerous. When community evacuations become necessary local officials provide information to the public through the media. In some circumstances, other warning methods, such as sirens, text alerts, emails or telephone calls are used.
The amount of time you have to leave will depend on the hazard. Unfortunately, many disasters allow no time for people to gather even the most basic necessities, which is why planning ahead is essential.
Plan how you will assemble your family and supplies and anticipate where you will go for different situations. Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency and know the evacuation routes to get to those destinations.
There may be conditions under which you will decide to get away or there may be situations when you are ordered to leave. Follow these guidelines for evacuation:
- Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood. Use the Family Emergency Plan to decide these locations before a disaster.
- If you have a car, keep a full tank of gas in it if an evacuation seems likely. Keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case of an unexpected need to evacuate. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies and unable to pump gas during power outages. Plan to take one car per family to reduce congestion and delay.
- Become familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area. Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency.
- Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.
- Follow recommended evacuation routes. Do not take shortcuts; they may be blocked.
- Be alert for road hazards such as washed-out roads or bridges and downed power lines. Do not drive into flooded areas.
- If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if you have to. Make arrangements with family, friends or your local government.
- Take your emergency supply kit unless you have reason to believe it has been contaminated.
- Listen to a battery-powered radio and follow local evacuation instructions.
- Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters. Plan how you will care for your pets in an emergency.
If time allows:
- Call or email the out-of-state contact in your family communications plan. Tell them where you are going.
- Secure your home by closing and locking doors and windows.
- Unplug electrical equipment such as radios, televisions and small appliances. Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding. If there is damage to your home and you are instructed to do so, shut off water, gas and electricity before leaving.
- Leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going.
- Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides some protection such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts and a cap.
- Check with neighbors who may need a ride.
- Shut all windows and doors, leaving them unlocked.
- Remove flammable window shades, curtains and close metal shutters.
- Remove lightweight curtains.
- Move flammable furniture to the center of the room, away from windows and doors.
- Shut off gas at the meter; turn off pilot lights.
- Leave your lights on so firefighters can see your house under smoky conditions.
- Shut off the air conditioning.
- Gather up flammable items from the exterior of the house and bring them inside (patio furniture, children’s toys, door mats, trash cans, etc.) or place them in your pool.
- Turn off propane tanks.
- Move propane BBQ appliances away from structures.
- Connect garden hoses to outside water valves or spigots for use by firefighters. Fill water buckets and place them around the house.
- Don’t leave sprinklers on or water running, they can affect critical water pressure.
- Leave exterior lights on so your home is visible to firefighters in the smoke or darkness of night.
- Put your Emergency Supply Kit in your vehicle.
- Back your car into the driveway with vehicle loaded and all doors and windows closed. Carry your car keys with you.
- Have a ladder available and place it at the corner of the house for firefighters to quickly access your roof.
- Seal attic and ground vents with pre-cut plywood or commercial seals.
- Patrol your property and monitor the fire situation. Don’t wait for an evacuation order if you feel threatened.
- Check on neighbors and make sure they are preparing to leave.
- Locate your pets and keep them nearby.
- Prepare farm animals for transport and think about moving them to a safe location early.