Special General Election April 16, 2024

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Evacuation and Shelter-In-Place


In the event of an emergency or critical incident, local officials will direct residents whether to evacuate or shelter-in-place. The order may be disseminated through a variety of mediums including: The Emergency Alert System (EAS) broadcast interruption alerts; Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) to cell phone users in Detroit; Nixle emergency alert notification system; Media; and Social Media. Sirens may also be used to alert residents to check radio and television broadcasts for emergency updates.


In general, sheltering-in-place is appropriate when conditions require that you seek immediate protection in your home, place of employment, school or other location when disaster strikes. Emergency officials, after considering the necessary information, will advise individuals when to shelter-in-place.

Choosing your Shelter-In-Place Location

  • Sheltering-in-Place could be as simple as remaining at home while officials clear hazards from a nearby area.
  • The exact spot where to shelter-in-place will depend on the type of emergency and your location (home, work, school, vehicle, etc).
  • Identify a room with the least amount of doors and windows and that meets the instructions provided by emergency officials. Ideally the room should allow at least 10 square feet per person.
  • When officials advise you to shelter-in-place, act quickly and follow instructions. Your main objective should be to get to a safe indoor location. You will likely be in your "safe room" for no more than a few hours.
  • Listen to a battery-powered radio or a television and follow local instructions.
  • In some types of emergencies you may be instructed to keep outside air from coming in. If emergency officials tell you to “seal the room” or to prevent outside air from coming in you need to:
    • Turn things off that move air like fans, and air conditioners
    • Get yourself and your loved ones inside the room
    • Get your emergency supplies, if clean and easy to get to in the room
    • Block air from entering the room, and
    • Listen to emergency officials for further instruction.

Evacuation is used as a last resort when a serious threat to public safety exists. Officials will recommend routes to use when an evacuation is necessary. It is important to follow these routes to ensure that the area is evacuated quickly and safely.

Be prepared:

  • Take your go bag.
  • Lock your house.
  • Leave a note telling people when you left and where you are going.
  • Use authorized routes.
  • When you are safe, call your out-of-area contact and let him or her know where you are.

Monitor TV and radio news for instructions from local authorities; keep a battery-powered radio in your home or business so you can receive instructions during a power outage.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Evacuation Guidelines

Follow these guidelines for evacuation:

  • Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood. Use the Family Emergency Plan to decide these locations before a disaster.
  • If you have a car, keep a full tank of gas in it if an evacuation seems likely. Keep a half tank of gas in it 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.
  • Become familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area. Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency.
  • Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.
  • 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.
  • If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if you have to. Make arrangements with family, friends or your local government.
  • Take your emergency supply kit unless you have reason to believe it has been contaminated.
  • Listen to a battery-powered radio and follow local evacuation instructions.
  • 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.

If time allows:

  • Call or email the out-of-state 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 cap.
  • Check with neighbors who may need a ride.

City Areas
A localized evacuation of a City Area is most likely. If officials recommend an evacuation, it is important that residents are prepared beforehand. Officials will recommend evacuation routes based on the incident. Residents should avoid shortcuts because they may be blocked.