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Emergency Shelter

cots and people inside a large airplan hangar

San Bernardino, CA, October 31, 2003 -- The evacuation shelter at Norton Air Force Base held over 3,000 evacuees following the fires in Southern California. (FEMA/Booher)

Depending on the type of disaster, you will be instructed to evacuate to a shelter or to stay put and shelter at home. Information on possible evacuations and local shelters is provided by local government and news media. You can listen to your radio for the location of the nearest volunteer agency facility. Another option is to shelter with friends outside of the disaster area. Make sure you wear sensible shoes and dress in layers if you asked to evacuate and bring all important documents with you.

Going to a Mass Shelter

  • Field Chapters of the Red Cross. The Red Cross lists all field chapters with Web sites.
  • Shelter. This resource from the Federal Citizen Information Center created by FEMA provides information on short-term and moderate-term shelter-in-place procedures as well as managing food and water supplies and staying in a mass shelter.
  • How Do I Find a Place to Stay? Information on short-term and longer-term shelters from FEMA.
  • The Salvation Army. Enter your zip code to find your nearest Salvation Army chapter.

Shelter at Home

Be very careful using generators or grills if sheltering at home. They must be used outside as they create carbon monoxide, which can suffocate and kill people if used indoors.

  • Staying Put. Information on sheltering-in-place as well as information about turning off the utilities safely on
  • Electrical Safety Precautions During Disasters. Produced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Electrical Safety Foundation International and provided by the Federal Citizen Information Center, this brochure discusses the hazards of wet electrical lines and the use of generators.
  • Shelter-in-Place in an Emergency. A detailed list of action items by the American Red Cross.