If an emergency occurs, you will be faced with two options, generally considered as "stay put" or "flee". Staying put is what we call "shelter in place", while fleeing is what we call "evacuation".
A request to evacuate or to shelter-in-place will only be given when it is believed by senior officials that there is an immediate risk to public health and safety. Emergencies that may result in a request to evacuate or to shelter-in-place include fires, releases of hazardous materials into the air and severe storms such as ice storms or tornadoes that have rendered areas of the City unsafe.
There are two primary methods of public notification of the need to evacuate or to shelter-in-place. Emergency services (police department, fire department) would inform residents through loud speakers or door-to-door contact and/or the information would be broadcasted over local media.
Generally, an evacuation is a movement of persons from a dangerous place due to a disaster or emergency. If the public is requested to evacuate, they will be provided with the location for an assembly point for those without transportation, and the location of a reception centre for those with transportation. The residents will also be provided with a timeline for the evacuation, although in many cases there may be a need for an immediate evacuation. Residents should consider maintaining an emergency kit that they can quickly access should the need arise for an immediate evacuation.
The City will arrange for transportation between the assembly point and the reception centre for those without transportation. All residents who evacuate are asked to register at the reception centre whether or not they intend to remain at this location or an associated shelter in order for the City to be able to track all residents affected by the emergency and to assist in reuniting separated families as well as to assist families with compensation requests.
Shelter in place is a precaution that helps keep you safe by remaining indoors. In the event of an emergency, such as the accidental or intentional release of dangerous goods into the environment, (i.e.; chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear contaminants), residents within the community may be instructed to shelter in place.
You will be told to stay in your house until further instructions. At that time you should keep everyone inside (including pets), close all windows and doors, shut the air conditioning units, block all vents with plastic wrap and duct tape and listen to local radio for further directions.
Shelter-In-Place would be requested in situations where toxic material is present in the atmosphere and where there may be insufficient time to safely evacuate residents.