At times, conditions may be such that officials advise leaving an area. This may be suggested in advance of expected flooding, hurricanes or other severe weather. It may also be advised in the event of a chemical incident, such as a hazardous material spill.
If you have to evacuate, take your emergency kit and your pets with you. Keep in mind, you may not be able to return home for several days or possibly longer, so plan accordingly.
It is important to practice your evacuation plan with your family. Set a time goal, and see if you can all make it out with your emergency kits and pets in the time you set. Once you have run through putting the plan into practice, talk about what did and didn't work. Then, change your plan to correct any issues.
Officials may also recommend what is known as sheltering in place. This means everyone should immediately get indoors and stay there until further notice. Often, the safest place to be in a building when a shelter in place order is given is in a room that has no windows. The specific reason for the order will dictate if a higher or lower part of the building is a better idea.
Sometimes you may be asked to seal up your windows and doors. This is to prevent chemicals or other harmful substances from entering through your ventilation systems. Keep duct tape and plastic sheeting available, and know how to turn off your home's ventilation system. You can use a damp towel to seal cracks under the door.
Other times, you may be asked to shelter in place from a threat such as tornadoes, straight line winds, or severe thunderstorms. You may also be forced to shelter in place by winter weather, including icy roads or blizzards. During these times, you do not need to seal off windows, doors, or ventilation systems. If you are sheltering in place due to a high-wind event like a tornado or derecho, pick an interior room with no windows on the bottom level of the building.