You may be told to evacuate your home or business because of any number of different disasters. The basic evacuation guidelines are the same for all types of disasters.
Where to get information
• If a disaster is occurring in your area, listen regularly to local radio or television stations for updated emergency information.
• Follow the instructions of local officials who will be able to advise you of the safest escape routes, which may be different than you expected.
When to evacuate
• If you are told to evacuate, do so immediately.
• Take personal supplies with you. These items will make you more comfortable while you are away from home. Do not assume a shelter will have everything you need. Generally, Red Cross shelters provide emergency items such as meals, cots, blankets and basic personal care items. You will need to bring specialty items such as medications, supplies for infants, or and food for those on special diets.
• If you need a ride, ask a neighbor. If no neighbor is available to help you, listen to local radio or television stations for further instructions and contact emergency personnel.
• Check on neighbors to make sure they have been notified, and offer help to those with disabilities or other special needs.
• Tell someone outside of the affected area where you are going. Relatives and friends will be concerned about your safety. Let someone know your travel plans.
• Lock your home.
• Take only one vehicle to the evacuation site. Traffic may be very heavy and parking at a shelter may be limited.
Where to go
• Listen carefully to local radio or TV news announcements to confirm the evacuation order applies to you. If it does, follow the exact route you are told to take.
• Listen to the news announcements for shelter information or make arrangements to stay with family or friends outside the affected area.
Remember your pets
• Plan how to take care of your pets. If you must evacuate, it is best to take your pets with you. However, pets (other than service animals) are not permitted in public shelters, according to many local health department regulations and because of other considerations.
• Contact hotels and motels outside of your immediate area to check their policies on accepting pets and restrictions on the number, size, and species. Ask if "no pet" policies could be waived in an emergency.
• Ask friends, relatives, or others outside of the affected area whether they could shelter your animals. If you have more than one pet, they may be more comfortable if kept together, but be prepared to house them separately.
• Prepare a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency; include 24-hour phone numbers. Ask local animal shelters if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets in a disaster. Animal shelters may be overburdened, so this should be your last resort.
• Keep a list of "pet friendly" places, including their phone numbers, with other disaster information and supplies. If you have notice of an impending disaster, call ahead for reservations.
• Carry pets in a sturdy carrier. Animals may feel threatened by some disasters and become frightened or try to run.
• Have identification, collar, leash, and proof of vaccinations for all pets. Veterinarian records may be required by some locations before they will allow you to board your pets. If your pet is lost, identification will help officials return it to you.
Contacting family members
* If you are staying in a Red Cross shelter, family can find you by calling their local Red Cross chapter and filing a Family Welfare Inquiry request - (360) 693-5821 for Clark county. Disaster volunteers will then relay those messages to you from your family. In addition, most Red Cross shelters are equipped with phones so clients can call family members.
* Return home only when authorities say it is safe. Local officials are the best source of information for your particular situation.