Safety at the onset of a hurricane requires fast action and preparedness. While residents may have implemented quality safeguards beforehand to prevent their home and assets from being destroyed, some cases require further methods for protection. When local and state officials anticipate the landfall of powerful or deadly hurricanes, coastal residents may be ordered to evacuate their homes.
Why is evacuation so important? Executives issue evacuation mandates as a precaution after determining a hurricane as a high-risk threat. This means that experts believe the potential for hazards related to the hurricane to occur outweighs the possibility of avoiding these dangers.
When to Evacuate
All residents should evacuate upon instruction from officials to do so. Once ordered to leave the area, locals will be given directions on the proper route and time for departure. Officials order evacuations based on zip code areas. Inhabitants can find evacuation route information, zones and procedures through their local transportation department online. County judges may issue a Hurricane Evacuation Contraflow in which lanes flowing the opposite direction of evacuation will be reversed to allow for a greater outflow of traffic.
It is important that inhabitants follow executive orders to evacuate as quickly and safely as possible. Often, residents become frantic and ignore the instructions, causing traffic and distressing situations. Local emergency professionals offer assistance for persons with disabilities or other factors which make it difficult or impossible for them to evacuate. Contact information for support is provided through official city websites.
Once you have decided or been ordered to leave the area, take action immediately. Evacuees should bring along any valuables and necessities including the following items:
- driver’s license, Social Security card, birth certificates and marriage certificates
- proof of insurance and residence
- financial statements or certificates including stocks or bonds, tax returns, and wills
- any medicines and medical products you may need
- emergency evacuation kits with necessities, first aid products, flashlights and batteries
- any pets (along with crates for storing these pets as well as food and water)
See our “Evacuation Preparation” page here for more details on essentials in the evacuation process as well as safety precautions.
Weighing the Options
Not every hurricane requires evacuation. If local administration has not encouraged evacuation, residents should be prepared to make these decisions on their own. Factors which may influence this choice include:
- hurricane category or path of hurricane
- proximity of your home to the coast and predicted hurricane path
- potential for flooding and other hurricane threats
- security of your home as a shelter
If your state or city has ordered an evacuation of the area, officials have removed the option for residents to stay or “ride-out” the storm. In many cases, if a resident chooses not to evacuate, they must legally sign a waiver and appoint next-of-kin for inheritance purposes if necessary. Remember that protecting your home or belongings is not worth risking your life.