Do I need to evacuate or stay put and shelter in place?
Since you can’t predict where you will be for disasters, it is important to have emergency plans and supplies for the locations you and your family go to regularly.
Planning ahead will ensure that you and your household will know what to do and have the supplies you need to be safe wherever you are.
Individuals and households should consider the locations they frequent; find out what plans are available for these locations, and customize their personal and household plans based on what household members would do if an emergency occurred while they were at that location.
Make A Plan Base On Your Location
Examples of locations to consider and plan for include:
- Vehicles – Have a plan for traveling between work and home, and other commonly visited locations, in case of an emergency. Download the Commuter Emergency Plan (PDF).
- Regular methods of transportation such as trains, urban commuter transit
- School & daycare
- Places of Worship
- Sports arenas and playing fields
- Entertainment locations such as theatres
- Shopping areas such as malls and retail centers
- Tourist and travel locations such as hotels
Important Additional Considerations
Developing emergency plans for different locations will require getting key information about the organization or building managers’ plans for the locations. In some cases, if plans are not available, this may involve working with the building manager or other members of the organization to develop or expand plans. Information that should be considered includes:
- How you and other occupants will get local alert or warnings while you are there
- Building location alarm or alert systems
- Building occupant evacuation plans including alternate exits
- Building or organization plans for sheltering occupants in an emergency
- Key Supplies you/household members and others would need for temporary sheltering
Planning should also consider how the type of structure or the environments around the structure or location may impact alerts and warnings, shelter and evacuation, and the need for supplies.
Examples of considerations for the type of structure or the environment around the location include:
- Single story vs multi-story or high rise buildings have different types of alarm systems, shelter and evacuation considerations.
- Urban and rural locations may have different local assumptions and plans for evacuation if large areas are impacted.
- Buildings like schools, sports arenas, and malls may have different plans for evacuation and shelter depending on the specific building structure and likely safe methods for evacuation or safe locations for shelter for different types of emergencies e.g. tornadoes
- Outdoor locations like sports fields or golf courses need specific plans for rapid short-term shelter e.g. for thunderstorms and lightning or tornadoes
- Geography may be critical for some hazards, e.g. if the area is low and vulnerable to flash flooding
- Mobile homes, modular structures, and other buildings not attached to permanent foundations require planning for evacuation and alternate shelter locations
Neighborhoods, Condominiums, and Apartments
- Talk to your neighbors about how you can work together during an emergency.
- Find out if anyone has specialized equipment like a power generator, or expertise such as medical knowledge, that might help in a crisis.
- Decide who will check on elderly or disabled neighbors.
- Make backup plans for children in case you can’t get home in an emergency.
- Sharing plans and communicating in advance is a good strategy.
In a High-Rise Building
- Note where the closest emergency exit is.
- Be sure you know another way out in case your first choice is blocked.
- Take cover against a desk or table if things are falling.
- Move away from file cabinets, bookshelves or other things that might fall.
- Face away from windows and glass.
- Move away from exterior walls.
- Determine if you should stay put, “shelter-in-place” or get away.
- Listen for and follow instructions.
Take your emergency supply kit, unless there is a reason to believe it has been contaminated.
- Do not use elevators.
- Stay to the right while going down stairwells to allow emergency workers to come up.
In a Moving Vehicle
- If there is an explosion or other factors that make it difficult to control the vehicle, pull over, stop the car and set the parking brake.
- If the emergency could impact the physical stability of the roadway, avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards.
- If a power line falls on your car you are at risk of electrical shock, stay inside until a trained person removes the wire.
- Listen to the radio for information and instructions as they become available.
Have a plan for traveling between work and home, and other commonly visited locations, in case of an emergency. Download the Commuter Emergency Plan (PDF).