PAY ATTENTION TO ALL WARNINGS FROM LOCAL PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICIALS REGARDING SHELTER-IN-PLACE OR EVACUATION.
If directed by public safety officials to shelter-in-place or evacuate, take immediate action.
Think about what you and your family will do if you are at work, at the store, or otherwise separated from each other if a disaster happens.
Before an Emergency
- Identify local radio and television stations where you can find news and emergency alerts. Learn more on our Stay Informed page.
- Familiarize yourself with the Delaware Emergency Management Agency’s (DEMA) shelter-in-place, evacuation, and sheltering information so you know what to expect. Due to COVID-19, plans are constantly being updated to have the most current safety guidance from the CDC.
- Download the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) phone app – it’s FREE! Learn more about the DelDOT app (link opens in new tab).
- Look at the DelDOT evacuation route maps and plan your routes. Access DelDOT maps (link opens in new tab).
- If you use DART or Paratransit, they reduce their routes and may stop completely right before, during, and immediately after a disaster. Visit the DART website (link opens in new tab).
- Before public safety officials tell you to evacuate, coordinate with friends and family outside the area for a comfortable place to go rather than staying at a shelter. Ask if they feel comfortable with having you in their home, potentially for several days or weeks. Check your destination’s travel restrictions due to COVID-19 (link opens in new tab), and have a few back up plans just in case.
- Shelters Are lifeboats, not cruise ships. Shelters should be your plan of last resort. The State of Delaware and the American Red Cross do great work, but it will not be the same experience as staying with family or in a hotel outside the area.
- Plan for your pets, backyard livestock, and other animals. Not every family member, friend, hotel, or other evacuation location will accept your pets.
- Do extra planning if you or your loved ones have access, functional, or medical needs. Even something as minor as a sprained ankle can seriously impact your evacuation plans! Whether the extra planning is for you, a loved one who lives nearby, or a friend who does not have other family living close by, you may need to add extra time and packing space.
Sheltering in place means taking cover wherever you are. It does NOT mean driving / going / walking home or back to work. If you are at a doctor’s appointment, at the store, at a restaurant, or some place else away from home, shelter in place wherever you are at that moment in time.
- If you are advised by local officials to shelter-in-place, remain inside your home or office.
- Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.
- Get your disaster supplies kit and make sure the radio is working or use a radio app on your phone. A list of local Delaware radio stations is available on our Stay Informed page.
- Go to an interior room without windows.
- Listen to your radio or television until you are told it is safe or you are told to evacuate. Local officials may call for evacuation to a safer place.
- In the case of a chemical or hazardous materials 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. Turn off all fans and heating and air conditioning systems. Close the fireplace damper.
- Only seal off doors, windows, and vents if advised to do so by emergency management authorities. Listen to emergency broadcast information and carefully follow instructions regarding sealing your home or business facility.
- Follow all warnings and notification messages from local public safety officials who will notify you if you should shelter-in-place or evacuate, when to leave, and what routes to take.
- If there is an immediate risk in your home, such as smelling gas or smoke or seeing fire, evacuate everyone from the home immediately. From a safe location, call 9-1-1 and report the incident.
- If local officials have told you to evacuate the area because of a chemical or hazardous materials event, listen to the radio, monitor your cell phone, and watch local news and weather channels. A list of local Delaware radio stations is on our Stay Informed page.
- Wear sturdy shoes and layered clothing, or bring additional clothing with you in case it is summer and you have to go into a place with cold air conditioning, or it is winter and you have to go into a place with high heat.
- Remember your pets. Do not leave them behind, even if you think it will only be for a few hours. They are completely dependent upon you to keep them safe. If you are not home when an evacuation order is made, make a plan with your neighbor to get them and get them to you. If you have a pet, make sure he/she is wearing a collar and has a carrier labeled with your name and the pet’s name. Pets should also have an emergency kit with food, water, medications, and other things. Pet emergency kit suggestions are on our Build a Kit page.
- Take your emergency kit. Although emergency shelters may be able to provide some basic supplies, it’s a good idea to take your own items, such as a blanket, pillow, air mattress, towel, washcloth, diapers, food, and supplies for infants.
- Call your emergency family contact to tell him/her where you are going, when you expect to arrive, and how you will let them know you are safe.
- If directed by public safety officials, shut off water and electricity before leaving. Leave natural gas service ON unless public safety officials direct you otherwise.
- Lock your home. Consider taking a photo of the outside of your home before you leave.
- Use travel routes specified by local authorities. Don’t use shortcuts; certain areas may be impassable or dangerous. Plan your route ahead of time. More information about planning Delaware evacuation routes is on our Make a Plan page.
- Stay away from downed power lines, especially if there are trees or water nearby.