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If you need to evacuate, there may or may not be time and provisions for a government ordered evacuation. If one exists, follow it.

However, let your own common sense override any lack of an official warning and evacuate if you feel like the situation warrants. This is especially true if you have special needs within your home such as the elderly, expectant mothers, etc.

Consider the ideas shown below on Evacuation.

Escape Routes - Ask local authorities about emergency evacuation routes.

Record your specific evacuation route directions on a map and keep it in your 72 Hour Kit.

Have maps of

  • Evacuation Routes
  • Area Hazards
  • Area Roads
  • Topographical
  • To Local Hospitals
  • To Shelters

Evacuating Yourself and Your Family - 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.

FEMA provides some online help for you to obtain maps of potential disaster related areas near where you live. Just click this link to learn more about obtaining maps of potential disaster areas.

Guidelines - Always do the following:

  • Keep a full tank of gas in your car if an evacuation seems likely. 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.
  • Make transportation arrangements with friends or your local government if you do not own a car.
  • Listen to a battery-powered radio and follow local evacuation instructions.
  • Gather your family and go if you are instructed to evacuate immediately. 
  • 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 washed-out roads and bridges.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas.  
  • Stay away from downed power lines.

If there is time, do the following:

  • Gather your 72 Hour Kits.
  • Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides some protection, such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and a hat.
  • Secure your home:
  • Close and lock doors and windows.
  • Unplug electrical equipment, such as computers, radios and televisions, and small appliances, such as toasters and microwaves.
  • Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding.
  • Let others know where you are going. 

In-Place Sheltering - This is a form of evacuation but you just don't travel anywhere. Click here to learn more about In-Place Sheltering.

Plans - Make a set of plans for your family and discuss it periodically to make sure everyone knows what they need to. Be sure to include the following in your plan:

  • Where to meet during a home evacuation, then it will be easy to see who has not escaped yet. More than once, someone has gone back inside and tried to find a person who had actually already escaped. This should be a place that is not likely to be confused with somewhere else. For example, if you have oak trees in the front and back yards, it does not work to say you will meet by the oak tree.
  • Even if your emergency is to evacuate a house that is on fire, having a plan can be of benefit. For example, your family should have a common gathering place once you get outside of the house.

  • Who to call as a central place. Pick someone who would not likely be involved in your same emergency. Put their contact info in everyone's 72 Hour Emergency Kits and into their cell phones.

  • Family Communications. Determine the preferred methods of family communication. Be advised that during an earthquake, the cell towers may be the first things to stop working.
  • Utility shut-off and safety. Keep proper equipment for each utility (gas, water & electricity) and teach everyone how to turn them off. If there are locks make sure everyone knows where the keys or combinations are located. Practice this. However, if you have natural gas, be aware that only certified natural gas personnel or plumbers can turn the gas back on, so you can just pretend to turn off the natural gas for your drill.
  • Caring for animals. Make plans for your animals, especially those that are not easy to transport. For more on this subject click here for Pets and Livestock.

Warning Systems - Click here to learn about Warning Systems.


Most of the material on this page can be referenced in: and


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