Evacuation Steps for a Hurricane

Tips To Help Prepare You & Your Family

"If evacuation is necessary for an approaching hurricane, or any type of natural or man-made emergency, the key is that you and your family respond quickly and responsibly," states Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Director Don Boyce. "Because hurricanes are being closely tracked and usually followed closely by the Media for as long as a week before reaching New England, everyone is afforded enough warning and should not be taken off guard if you are directed to take precautionary steps, including an evacuation."

Receiving Alerts

State or local public safety officials may alert you by 1 or several methods. Learn what methods are utilized in your community. They could include:
  • All Call, Reverse 911, Code Red, etc. - 1 of a number of automated telephoning systems for sending recorded messages
  • Emergency Alert System (EAS) - information provided on the radio and television
  • Messages on teletypewriters (TTY)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Alert Radio
  • News media
  • Outdoor sirens or horns
  • Residential route alerting, which dispatches public safety vehicles through neighborhoods announcing messages with public address systems or literally knocking on doors
  • U.S. Coast Guard Marine Broadcast

Planning for Evacuation

Ask your local Emergency Management Office about community evacuation plans. Learn proposed evacuation routes and locations of potential public shelters. If you do not have personal transportation, make arrangements with friends or your local government. Develop a family communications plan.


  • Assemble a Disaster Supply Kit.
  • Keep your car fueled if evacuation seems likely. Gas stations may be closed during an emergency, run out of fuel, or be unable to pump gas during power outages.
  • Know how to safely shut off your home's electricity, gas and water supplies at main switches and valves.
  • Make a plan with family members for a destination if you have to leave your community. In your planning, consider different scales of evacuation:
    • Community
    • County
    • Neighborhood
  • Pre-drill plywood to be able to board up windows.

What to Do if Asked/Told to Evacuate

  • Check with neighbors to see if they need assistance. Offer to share transportation.
  • Close and lock windows and doors.
  • Do not call your local fire or police departments for information. Emergency workers will need their lines for emergency use. If you need special help, call your local Emergency Management Office.
  • Elevate valuable items to higher points within your home.
  • Gather all persons in the house together.
  • Household members outside the area may be advised not to return during an evacuation. They may be directed to a reception center or mass care shelter where you can join them.
  • If you need a ride, try to get one with neighbors or contact your local Emergency Management Office.
  • Let others know where you are going.
  • Move all loose outdoor items indoors, such as:
    • Awnings
    • Hanging plants
    • Lawn furniture
    • Toys
    • Trashcans
  • Stay tuned to your Emergency Alert System (EAS) radio station.
  • Turn off lights and unnecessary appliances.

How to Travel

  • Be aware of and follow designated evacuation routes.
  • Keep the car radio tuned to an Emergency Alert System (EAS) station.

What to Take With You

Take essential items. You may be away from home for a few hours to a few days.
  • Baby supplies
  • Blankets, pillows, and towels, particularly if you plan on staying at a public mass care shelter)
  • Checkbook, credit card and cash
  • Clothing for several days.
  • Identification and important papers
  • Prescription medicines, medical equipment and important medical records
  • Special dietary foods.
  • Toilet articles:
    • Shampoo
    • Soap
    • Toothbrush
    • Toothpaste

About Your Pets

  • Know pet-friendly hotels and motels in the area.
  • Make plans ahead of time to take your pet to stay at relatives, friends or a kennel outside the affected area.
  • Make sure your pets wear collars with current license and rabies tags, and identification tags that include information on where you will be staying during the emergency.
  • Only seeing-eye dogs and other service animals will be allowed inside most reception centers and mass care shelters, although SMART (State of Massachusetts Animal Response Team) may be able to assist with animal sheltering accommodations.
  • Prepare an emergency kit for your pets. Include:
    • A 3-day supply of food
    • A week's supply of medications that your pet may be taking
    • Bowls
    • Collars
    • Leashes
    • Litter boxes
    • Photographs
  • Use a pet carrier for each of your pets to make transportation easier.

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is the state agency responsible for coordinating federal, state, local, voluntary and private resources during emergencies and disasters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. MEMA provides leadership to:
  • Assist individuals, families, businesses and communities to mitigate against, prepare for, and respond to and recover from emergencies, both natural and man made.
  • Develop plans for effective response to all hazards, disasters or threats
  • Train emergency personnel to protect the public; provide information to the citizenry
For additional information about MEMA and Hurricane Preparedness, visit the MEMA website.