Sheltering-in-Place vs. Evacuation

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In certain emergencies, you'll be faced with the decision of whether to stay put or get away. Local authorities may or may not immediately be able to provide information on what's happening and what you should do. It's your responsibility to gather as much information as possible and use common sense in making a decision.


Shelter in Place Diagram

In certain emergencies, it's best to stay where you are and avoid any uncertainty and/or create a barrier between yourself and potentially contaminated air outside. If you see large amounts of debris in the air, or if local authorities say the air is badly contaminated, you may also want to "seal the room."

  • Bring your family and pets inside
  • Lock doors and close windows, air vents and fireplace dampers
  • Turn off fans, air conditioning and forced-air heating systems
  • Take your emergency supplies into an interior room with few windows
  • Seal all windows, doors and air vents with plastic sheeting and duct tape
  • Watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.

Ten square feet of floor space per person will provide sufficient air to prevent carbon dioxide build-up for up to five hours, assuming a normal breathing rate while resting.


In emergencies when you are ordered to leave or you decide to get away, plan how you will assemble your family and anticipate where you will go.

  • Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options
  • Plan places to meet within and outside of your immediate neighborhood
  • Keep a half tank of gas in your car at all times in case you need to evacuate
  • Familiarize yourself with alternate routes out of your area
  • If you don't have a car, plan other means of transportation
  • Lock the doors behind you
  • Take your pets with you
  • Build a Kit that includes supplies to meet the unique needs of your family and furry friends
  • Take supplies and important documentation with you when you evacuate