National Preparedness Month: Evacuating Yourself and Your Family

By: Michelle Fulleda

            A disaster can strike at any moment. Depending on the circumstance and the severity of the event, the first decision you should make is whether to stay put or evacuate. If it is a weather condition, such as a hurricane, there might be enough time to get ready. Some disasters allow no time to gather basic essentials, so planning ahead is vital. When community evacuations are required, local officials can provide information through media, sirens, text alerts, emails or phone calls. If you’re specifically told to evacuate or seek medical treatment, do so immediately.

How to plan

  • Meet with your family or household members.
  • Discuss how to prepare and respond to emergencies that are most likely to happen in your area.
  • Learn now and where to turn off utilities.
  • Assign responsibilities for each of member of your household and plan to work together as a team.
  • Choose and out-of-area contact person for everyone to call or text in case of an emergency.
  • Choose two safe places to meet in case you are separated during an emergency 1) Right outside your home. 2) Outside your neighborhood or town, in case you cannot return home or have to evacuate.
  • Plan ahead for your pets.


Guidelines for Evacuation

  • Keep a full tank in your car if evacuation seems likely. Keep half a tank of gas at all times in case of unexpected emergencies.
  • Be familiar with alternative routes and other means of transportation out of your area.
  • Be alert for road hazards and do not drive into flooded areas.
  • Take your emergency supply kit, unless you believe it is contaminated.
  • 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.
  • Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters


The Red Cross Shelter Finder is available in the iTunes store and works on iOS devices. The Shelter Finder displays open Red Cross shelters and their current population on an easy to use map interface. (click on image to download)


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