Should You Stay or Should You Go?
Your state and local governments have established emergency plans for disasters both natural and man-made, specific to your area. Depending on your community, the methods of alerting you may differ, but a common method is to broadcast via emergency radio and TV broadcasts. You may also hear a special siren, receive telephone calls, or emergency workers may come to your door.
During disasters or imminent disasters, it is vital to keep a TV or radio on to hear updates and instructions from local authorities and government officials. Keep an NOA Weather Radio on in your home to wake you up and alert you to weather alerts. Whatever the disaster or emergency, if firefighters, law enforcement, or local authorities recommend evacuation, you need to leave immediately.
In the case of hurricanes, you may have to make the decision whether you can ride out the storm in safety or if you need to evacuate. Generally, if your house is on the coastline or offshore islands, near a river, or in a flood plain, you should plan on evacuation.
But if you live on higher ground and are not near any coastal lines, you may consider staying put. Be prepared by June when the hurricane season begins, so that you can have the information you need to evaluate the situation and make the best decision, whether to stay or leave.
During times of imminent disasters, prepare ahead of time by having at least a half tank of gas in your vehicle, and while driving, keep your car windows closed and the air conditioner or heater off.
Find out the storm-surge history and elevation of your area, the safe routes to drive inland, and where official shelters are located. Listen to official bulletins on radio, TV, or NOAA Weather Radio, and stay tuned when a hurricane warning is issued for your area. If you decide to evacuate, drive safely and carefully by way of recommended evacuation routes to the nearest designated shelter.
If a flood warning is issued, you may be directed by authorities to leave if you are located in an area with potential for rising waters or in low-lying areas. If you are allowed to stay in your home, continue to listen to radio and television for updates. You also need to continue to prepare to evacuate should your home become damaged, or conditions change and you are told to leave by emergency personnel.
In the case of wildfire, the smoke may be so severe that the health risks outweigh any possible benefits of staying in your home. Smoke from fires may irritate your eyes, and respiratory system, and worsen chronic lung and heart diseases. Or the fire may begin to encroach on your home, jeopardizing your safety and causing you to evacuate. If you decide or are instructed to evacuate, listen to and follow directions about where to go, such as shelter locations and the safest routes to take.