Evacuation and Shelter-in-Place


In some emergencies it may be safer for you to leave your home and neighbourhood. Authorities won't ask you to leave your home unless they believe you're in danger. If you're ordered to evacuate:

  • Follow instructions from authorities
  • Take your emergency kit, vital medications, wallet and personal identification for each family member
  • Bring your pets
  • Bring a cell phone and charger if you have one. Only use it as necessary to preserve the battery life.
  • Shut off water and electricity if instructed to do so by emergency officials.
  • Shut off natural gas only if instructed to do so by emergency officials as it has to be reconnected by the gas company. In a major emergency, it could take weeks for a professional to reconnect it.
  • If possible, leave a note in a visible location telling others when you left and where you're going
  • If you have time, notify your out-of-town contact. Tell them where you're going and when you expect to arrive. Once you're safe, let them know. Tell them if any family members have become separated.
  • Lock and secure your home
  • Once you have taken care of yourself and your family, if possible, check to see if there are neighbours whom you can assist
  • Use travel routes specified by local authorities since other routes may be unsafe. Pay attention to information on road closures.
  • Register with a local reception centre / evacuation centre even if you'll be staying elsewhere.
  • Don't return home until authorities advise it's safe


You may be instructed to shelter-in-place if a threat to your safety exists outside. This means you must remain inside your home, office or other building and take actions to protect yourself there.

General shelter-in-place

  • Go inside and remain inside your home, office, school or other building
  • Follow instructions from local authorities
  • If possible, stay in an interior room away from windows and doors
  • Remain inside until emergency officials advise it's safe

Shelter-in-place due to an air quality threat, such as smoke from a fire

  • Go inside and remain inside your home, office, school or other building
  • Follow instructions from local authorities, close and lock all windows and exterior doors
  • Turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems to avoid drawing in outside air
  • Get your emergency kit, including radio
  • Go to an interior room without windows, preferably above ground level. In the case of a chemical threat, an above-ground location is preferable because some chemicals are heavier than air and may seep into basements even if the windows are closed. Listen to instructions from local authorities.
  • If no interior room is available, stay away from windows and outside doors
  • If you have a fireplace, close the damper
  • Use duct tape or wet cloths to seal cracks around doors, windows and vents

Shelter-in-place due to a tornado or other weather-related event with the exception of flooding

  • Go inside and remain inside your home, office, school or other building
  • Go to the basement or an interior room on the lowest level
  • Stay away from windows and exterior doors
  • If possible, avoid parts of the building that could have something fall on them such as overhanging branches
  • If possible, cover your head with something
  • Don't leave until local authorities have advised it's safe or the weather warning has been lifted for your area
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