How to Prepare for an Evacuation Order 

 September 23, 2015

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When a natural disaster or another emergency strikes, people are often forced to evacuate their homes. Fires and floods are the most common reasons for evacuations, but hurricanes also require many people to leave their homes. Transportation and industrial accidents can release harmful substances that can make it dangerous for people to stay in their houses.

Local officials sometimes decide that circumstances are dangerous enough to require mandatory evacuations. In other cases, evacuations are optional but recommended. Officials can provide the public with information about evacuations through the media, sirens, text alerts, emails, or telephone calls.

The amount of time you have to evacuate will depend on the nature of the threat and the situation. If a storm such as a hurricane is approaching, you might have a couple of days to get ready. In other cases, you might have to leave your home immediately with no warning. You should be prepared so that you will know what to do and where to go if you ever need to evacuate your home quickly.

Before a disaster strikes, choose more than one location where your family can meet. Pick locations both within and outside your neighborhood.

If you have a car and it is likely that you will need to evacuate, keep a full tank of gas. Keep at least half a tank of gas at all times in case you need to evacuate unexpectedly. Gas stations could be closed during an emergency, and they might be unable to pump gas during a power outage. Your whole family should ride in one car to reduce congestion and delays.

Familiarize yourself with alternate routes and other means of transportation to evacuate your area. Choose several destinations in different directions so you will have multiple options if you need to evacuate.

Leave as early as possible so you will not get trapped by severe weather.

Follow evacuation routes recommended by authorities. Do not take shortcuts because they may be blocked.

Watch for road hazards, such as washed-out roads and bridges and fallen power lines. Do not drive in a flooded area.

If you do not have a car, make arrangements to evacuate with family, friends, or your local government.

Take your emergency supply kit with you, unless you believe it has been contaminated.

Listen to a battery-powered radio to get evacuation instructions from local officials.

Have a plan to care for your pets if you need to evacuate. Public shelters may only allow service animals.

If you have time:

Call or email an out-of-state contact and tell that person where you are going.

Lock all doors and windows before you leave your home.

Unplug electrical equipment, but leave your refrigerator and freezer plugged in unless there is a chance of flooding. If your home has sustained damage and you have been instructed to do so, turn off the water, gas, and electricity.

Leave a note to let others know when you left and where you are going.

Wear protective clothing, such as long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sturdy shoes, and a hat.

Ask your neighbors if they need a ride.

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