Create Your Evacuation Plan

A wide variety of emergencies may cause an evacuation. In some instances, you may have a day or two to prepare, while other situations might call for an immediate evacuation. Planning ahead is vital to ensuring that you can evacuate quickly and safely.

Before an Evacuation

  • Learn the types of disasters that are likely in your community and the local emergency, evacuation, and shelter plans for each specific disaster.
  • Plan how you will leave and where you will go if you are advised to evacuate.
  • Identify several places you could go in an emergency such as a friend’s home in another town or a motel. Choose destinations in different directions so that you have options during an emergency.
  • If needed, identify a place to stay that will accept pets. Many public shelters allow only service animals.
  • Be familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area.
  • Always follow the instructions of local officials and remember that your evacuation route may be on foot depending on the type of disaster.
  • Develop a family/household communication and re-unification plan so that you can maintain contact and take the best actions for each of you and re-unite if you are separated.
  • Assemble supplies that are ready for evacuation, both a “go-bag” you can carry when you evacuate on foot or public transportation and supplies for traveling by longer distances if you have a personal vehicle.

If you have a car

  • Keep a full tank of gas—especially if an evacuation seems likely. Keep at least a half tank of gas at all times in case of an unexpected need to evacuate. 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 sure you have a portable emergency kit in the car.
  • If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if needed. Make arrangements if you require mobility assistance.
  • Listen to a battery-powered radio and follow local evacuation instructions.
  • Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.
  • Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters. Plan how you will care for your pets in an emergency now.

If time allows

  • Call or email the contact in your family communications plan. Tell them where you are going.
  • Secure your home by closing and locking doors and windows.
  • Unplug electrical equipment such as radios, televisions, and small appliances. Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding. If there is damage to your home and you are instructed to do so, shut off water, gas, and electricity before leaving.
  • Leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going.
  • Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides some protection such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and a hat.
  • Check with neighbors who may need a ride.
  • Follow recommended evacuation routes. Do not take shortcuts; they may be blocked.
  • Be alert for road hazards such as washed-out roads or bridges and downed power lines. Do not drive into flooded areas.


Items Checklist


  • Birth certificates
  • Car insurance card
  • Drivers’ licenses and/or State IDs
  • Health insurance card
  • House deed
  • Insurance papers
  • Legal documents
  • Marriage license
  • Tax papers
  • Pet ID tags


  • Blank checks
  • Cash
  • Check books
  • Credit cards


  • Analgesics (aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen)
  • First-aid kit
  • Motion sickness tablets
  • Prescription dentures
  • Prescription glasses/contacts
  • Prescription hearing aids
  • Prescriptions
  • Pet medications

Food and water (for three to seven days, if time permits)

  • Manual can opener
  • Non-perishable, ready-to-eat food
  • Pet food
  • Pet treats
  • Water (at least one gallon per person and pet per day)
  • Pet water bowls
  • Disposable dinnerware

Toiletries (if time permits)

  • Sanitary devices
  • Shaving articles
  • Soap and towels
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Emergency sanitation (i.e., small bottle of bleach and an eye dropper for water)

Clothing (appropriate for the season, if time permits)

  • Change of clothing for each person (for one to seven days)
  • Change of underwear
  • Coats and jackets
  • Gloves and scarves
  • Hats and caps
  • Infant supplies and toys
  • Shoes and boots
  • Sleepwear
  • Pet leashes

Additional Items to Take (if time permits)

  • Cameras, chargers and/or extra batteries
  • Cell phones and chargers
  • Covered container to use as an emergency toilet
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Portable radio and extra batteries
  • Reading material
  • Recreational items

Jewelry (if time permits)

  • Decorations, pins, awards
  • Family heirlooms
  • Gold, silver, and other valuable jewelry

Sentimental (if time permits)

  • Irreplaceable keepsakes
  • Original paintings
  • Photos and albums, slides, movies, home videos
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