In some emergencies, local officials may tell people to leave their home to keep residents and visitors safe. Fires, floods or chemical accidents require evacuations frequently across the country. At other times, fire fighters and police tell people to stay indoors, or ‘shelter in place.’

The amount of time you have to leave will depend on the danger. You may be told ahead of time, as with a hurricane. Or, you may not have much time to leave as in the case of industrial accidents. Always follow the orders of the local emergency officials.

Follow these guidelines when evacuating:

  • Listen to local media.
  • Fill your car with gasoline. Take only one vehicle to lower the amount of traffic.
  • Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.
  • Plan where your family will meet and go.  Tell family or friends of your plans.
  • If possible, stay with family or friends in a safe area. Next, try a motel or hotel. As a last resort, go to a shelter. Remember, shelters are not made for comfort and should be places of last resort.
  • Map out your path, using major roads. If local officials suggest certain evacuation routes, use those roads
  • Always take pets with you when evacuating.
  • Don't forget emergency kits for your family and pets. Bring key family papers.
  • Bring extra cash. Banks may be closed, and cash tellers may not work.
  • Lock doors and windows before leaving your house. Unplug radios, toasters, televisions and small appliances. Be sure to turn off water, gas and power.
  • Ask neighbors if they need a ride.

Evacuation routes in North Carolina

Evacuation Zones - Know Your Zone

What to take to a shelter

Staying Put

There may be times when it’s simply best to stay put to stay away from possible dangers outside. You may also need to stay put to keep you away from possibly dangerous air outside.

Use common sense. Information will be given so you can decide if you are in danger. If you see a lot of trash in the air, or if fire fighters and police say the air is badly tainted, you may want to take this kind of action.

The process used to seal the room is thought to be a short-term protective way to make a barrier between you and possibly bad air outside. It is a type of sheltering in place that needs preplanning.

If fire fighters, police or other officials tell you to stay indoors, be sure to:

  • Bring your family and pets inside.
  • Lock doors, close windows, air vents and fireplace dampers.
  • Turn off fans, air conditioning and forced air heating systems.
  • Get your emergency supply kit unless you have reason to believe it has been dirtied or is unclean.
  • Go into an inside room with few windows.
  • Seal all windows, doors and air vents with 2-4 mil. thick plastic sheeting and duct tape.
    • To save time, measure and cut the sheeting in advance. Cut the plastic sheeting many inches wider than the openings. Label each sheet.
    • Duct tape plastic at corners first. Then tape down all edges.
    • Be ready to wing it. Use what you have on hand to seal gaps so that you make a barrier between yourself and any contamination.
  • Fire fighters and police may not instantly be able to give information on what is happening and what you should do.
  • You should watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.

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