Plan & Prepare
If Disaster Strikes:
Preparing to Evacuate or Shelter-In-Place
(Most of the information on this page is adapted from the American Red Cross document, “Terrorism: Preparing for the Unexpected”)
Things to Expect:
Health Risks: Terrorist events involving biological, radiological, chemical or other agents may create unique health risks.
- You should be prepared to listen for official instructions from Public
Safety officials, about health risks and the possible availability of emergency treatment.
- Remember: For this and other reasons, a battery-powered radio is a key component of your Emergency Supply Kit!
- Find fact sheets and other information on emergency health risks at the New
Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services Emergency Preparedness Page.
Other Factors: As we learned from the events of September 11, 2001, the following things can happen after a terrorist attack:
- There may be significant numbers of casualties and / or damage to buildings and infrastructure.
- Your employer will need up-to-date information about any medical needs you may have, and on how to contact your designated beneficiaries.
- Heavy law enforcement involvement at local, state and federal levels follows a terrorist attack due to the event’s criminal nature.
- Health and mental health resources in the affected communities can be strained to their limits, perhaps even overwhelmed.
- Extensive media coverage, strong public fear and international implications and consequences can continue for a prolonged period.
- Workplaces and schools may be closed. There may be restrictions on domestic and international travel.
- You and your family may have to evacuate an area, avoiding roads blocked for your safety.
- Clean-up may take many months.
Evacuation: What should you do when an Evacuation is advised or ordered?
- Follow the instructions you are given by emergency management officials. Heed their advice immediately.
- Leave as soon as possible.
- Bring your Emergency Kit -pdf.
- Dress for the prevailing weather conditions, at minimum a long sleeve shirt, pants, and sturdy shoes.
- Take your pets with you. Remember that pets (other than assistance animals for people with disabilities) are not permitted in emergency shelters. You must follow your plan to go to a friend’s home or a pet-friendly hotel. Click here for tips.
- Lock your home.
- Use travel routes specified by local authorities – don’t use shortcuts because certain areas may be impassable or dangerous.
- Avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges. Stay away from downed power lines.
- If you are sure you’ll have time:
- Call your family contact to tell them where you are going and when you expect to arrive.
- Shut off water and electricity before leaving, if instructed to do so. Leave natural gas service ON unless local officials advise you otherwise.
- Listen to local authorities. They will provide you with the most accurate information specific to an event in your area. Stay tuned to local radio and television. A battery-powered radio is a vital part of your Emergency Kit.
Sheltering-In-Place: What should you do if instructed to “Shelter in Place”?
- To “shelter in place” means to remain in your home or office and protect yourself there.
- Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.
- Turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems.
- Close the fireplace damper.
- Get your Emergency
- Make sure the radio is working. A battery-powered
radio is a vital part of your Emergency Kit.
- Go to an interior room without windows that is above ground level.
- IMPORTANT: In 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.
- Using duct tape, seal all cracks around the door and any vents in the room.
- Keep listening to your radio or television until you are told all is safe or until you are told to evacuate. A battery-powered radio is a vital part of your Emergency Kit.
- Local officials may call for evacuation in specific areas at greatest risk in your community.
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