Deciding to Stay or Go in an Emergency
WHY? When an emergency occurs…
having an evacuation plan in place will increase the likelihood everyone will exit the building safely, loss of vital property will be minimized, and the time away from your home or studio will be less stressful.
Among emergency planners, the general wisdom is “Run from water, Hide from wind.”
Deciding to Stay or Go
Sometimes warnings of potential natural disaster are broadcast well in advance. But in an emergency situation, you and those working with you may have less than 20 minutes to respond.
Use available information and common sense. When an evacuation is not mandatory, deciding whether to stay or leave should depend on a variety of factors.
Have you considered all the factors?
Whether you have a minute or hours to act, here are the basics to remember for safe evacuation:
If Staying Put
Some emergencies — such as fire — will require you to get out fast, while others may require that you stay. Make sure that everyone in your studio knows the best escape route, as well as a secondary one.
What to do if you can’t or shouldn’t leave your studio?
If you are considering staying put during an emergency, ask yourself:
Has my structure weathered other emergencies? If so, how did it fare?
Do I have time to secure the structure’s exterior?
Do I have tarps and plastic sheeting?
Is there a safe interior room?
Do I have a vehicle with a full tank of gas?
Do I have adequate food, water, and disaster supplies to survive a week?
Do I have a battery-operated radio, with extra batteries?
Do I have enough medication, and/or will I have access to medical care if needed?
High Winds: Tornado and Hurricane
Safer places inside
Have a designated safe place to shelter during a tornado or hurricane. This can be a basement, downstairs bathroom, closet, interior hallway, or other small room that is structurally sound and safe from flying glass. If you are in a bathroom, get into the bathtub and cover yourself with a mattress or sofa cushion so you will be protected on all sides.
Helmets or hard hats, especially those with face protection provide extra protection while in your safe room.
If you are in an office building, shopping center, or other building away from home, take shelter in a smaller interior room, bathroom, or hallway on a lower level. Avoid areas with wide expanses of roof that could collapse on you. A space under a heavy piece of furniture or a corner may provide protection against falling objects and flying debris.
Schools and some commercial buildings will have plans and designated
Less safe places
A mobile home is not a safe place to be in a tornado or a hurricane, even if strapped to the ground. If you are in a mobile home community seek shelter in a more substantial building, and as a last resort during a tornado warning, take refuge in a ditch, culvert or other low-lying area.
If you are in your car, stop and take shelter in a building. As a last resort during a tornado warning, take refuge in a ditch, culvert or other low-lying area, or during a hurricane drive to where cover can be found (a parking garage or under an overpass). Don’t drive through flooded areas or park in a low-lying area.
Listen to your NOAA weather radio. Be sure the alarm is turned up loud enough that you can hear it from any room. Stay alert during a tornado or hurricane watch and use the time to make last-minute preparations such as moving people and pets inside. At the first sound of a tornado or hurricane warning move yourself and others to your safe place.
If you have power, stay tuned to your local TV station with the best weather reporting.
Don’t Panic and Don’t Run, and especially don’t run outside if you are inside. You may be hit by falling debris.
Drop, Cover, Hold On – Find a spot to wait out the earthquake, next to an inside wall under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a heavy desk or table that will protect you from falling debris. Hold on to a table leg or part of the furniture.
Stay away from windows, mirrors and pictures where glass could shatter, and from areas where heavy bookcases or other heavy furniture could fall over.
Turn off gas, water and electricity.
Be prepared for after-shocks.
After the earthquake, listen to the radio or television for information.
Preparing to Stay Put Safely
Assess Your Risk
Assess your risk of these kinds of emergencies and plan accordingly. If your risk of hurricane or tornado is high, for example, and you have the resources to construct a safe room, then start the planning and building as soon as you can. If your risk is low or constructing a safe room is not an option for you, plan now a safe shelter-in-place response.
Regardless of your risk of various kinds of emergencies, it is important to assemble an easy-to-carry emergency preparedness kit of supplies you may need in the event of an emergency. Determine what items you will need to stay safe for at least 3 days. Assemble this “what if kit,” including:
Potable water, plus water for sanitation purposes
Battery run/crank/solar radio
At least a 3-day supply of non-perishable foods that meet your specific dietary needs, and a manual can opener
Emergency contact list
First aid kit
Warm clothing, shoes/boots
- Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business (FEMA)
- Drop, Cover, Hold On is the mantra for what to do when an earthquake strikes. Test your knowledge on preparing a room for a quake with their game “Beat the Quake.”
- California, the Central U.S., and states in other seismic zones have periodic “ShakeOuts” or earthquake preparedness drills.
- My Safe LA has created a video about earthquake safety.