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Get Prepared: Evacuation & Disaster Sheltering


Evacuation should be addressed as part of everyone's planning efforts. City officials will tell you when to evacuate through the media and direct warnings. Evacuation is used as a last resort when a serious threat to public safety exists. If you must evacuate, your first plan should always be to stay with friends or family.

In a planned evacuation, such as for a coastal storm, the City will advise residents of which areas are impacted and provide guidance on how the evacuation will proceed. In the case of coastal storms, designated routes have been identified throughout the city to effectively get people from low-lying hazard areas safely to higher ground. To find out whether you live or work in a hurricane evacuation zone, use the Hurricane Evacuation Zone Finder, OEM's Web-based evacuation mapping tool.

In an unplanned evacuation, such as for a hazardous material spill, officials will advise affected residents to leave the immediate area until the danger can be removed. Always have your Go Bag prepared and easily accessible in case of any evacuation. You may not have time to assemble your belongings, and you may not be allowed back until the danger has passed.


  • Are directed to do so by an emergency official.
  • Are in immediate danger.


  • Determine whether you live in a hurricane evacuation zone by accessing the Hurricane Evacuation Zone Finder, calling 311 (TTY: 212-504-4115), or contacting 311 online.
  • Know evacuation plans for all the places you and your household members spend time. Often buildings have floor marshals who are responsible for evacuation plans.
  • Make alternate transportation plans; the means of transportation you usually use may not be available.
  • Practice plans through regular drills. People who practice escape drills can evacuation with greater ease than those who are unfamiliar with the procedures.
  • If you have pets, consider what you would do if you cannot return home to them. Pet owners should read Ready New York for Pets for more information.


  • If there is time, secure your home: close and lock windows and doors, and unplug appliances before you leave. Authorities will instruct you if it is necessary to turn off utilities.
  • Wear sturdy shoes and comfortable, protective clothing, such as long pants and long-sleeved shirts.
  • Bring your Go Bag with you.
  • Do NOT use an elevator during a fire or other emergency unless directed to do so by emergency personnel. If power goes out or is shut off, you may become trapped.
  • Remember, evacuation routes change based on the emergency so stay tuned to the local news, access, call 311 (TTY: 212-504-4115), or contact 311 online for the latest information.
  • Go to the nearest safe place or shelter as soon as instructed.

Learn more about evacuations by clicking on the video below.


Disaster Sheltering

If you are directed to evacuate, make arrangements to stay with friends or family outside the affected area whenever possible. For evacuees who have no alternative shelter, the City will open shelters throughout the five boroughs. Disaster shelters may be set up in school, municipal buildings, and places of worship. They provide basic food and water. If possible, bring clothing, bedding, bathing and sanitary supplies, medications, and your Go Bag to shelters.

  • See Tips for Pet Owners if you have pets.
  • Alcoholic beverages, firearms, and illegal substances are NOT allowed in disaster shelters.
  • Shelter sites change based on the emergency so stay tuned to the local news, access, call 311 (TTY: 212-504-4115), or contact 311 online for the latest information.

Learn more about disaster sheltering by clicking on the video below.

More Resources
Learn about coastal storm emergencies and evacuations (NYC Hazards: Coastal Storms and Hurricanes)
Tips for Evacuating High-Rise Buildings (in PDF) (OSHA)