Evacuate or Stay?

Local media will give instructions about whether you should evacuate or stay where you are. Listen to TV or radio stations and social media for local, up-to-date information.


  • If you are told to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Plan now to keep your family safe. Start by making a family emergency plan.
  • You may not have to travel far to be safe.  Listen to local officials for information about evacuation routes and shelters. Consider friends and family who live in safe areas.
  • Take your emergency supply kit. You may have only minutes to leave your home, so collect items for your kit now.
  • Do not leave your pets behind. Plan now for pet care during an emergency.
  • If there is damage to your home and you are told to shut off water, gas and electricity, then do so immediately.
  • Check with neighbors who might need a ride.
  • The Virginia Department of Transportation gives detailed hurricane evacuation information, including maps, in their online guide.

Stay where you are

  • If you are told to stay where you are, stay indoors away from all windows. Take shelter in an interior room with no windows if possible.
  • Listen to local television or radio stations for updates.
  • Stay until local officials say it is safe. Do not drive unless absolutely necessary.
  • Keep the phone lines open for emergency calls.
  • Keep your emergency supply kit with you.
  • You might be told to create a barrier between yourself and the air outside, a process known as “sealing the room.” If you see large amounts of debris in the air, or if local officials say the air is harmful, you can tape up windows, doors and air vents if you need to seal off a room from outside air. Sealing a room is a temporary measure. It’s best to gather supplies and pre-cut in advance so that you’ll be ready if the time comes to seal a room.

To seal a room:

  • Seal all windows, doors and air vents with 2 to 4 mil thick plastic sheeting and duct tape.
  • Cut the plastic sheeting several inches wider than the openings and label each sheet. 
  • Duct tape plastic at corners first and then tape down all edges.
  • Be prepared to use whatever you have on hand to seal gaps and create a barrier between yourself and any contamination.

Be ready. Be willing to help.

Virginia Disaster Relief Fund