Prepare: Shelter and Evacuation Plans


Utilize common sense and the latest information to determine the hazards specific to your location. If you are told to evacuate or to seek medical treatment by local officials, do so immediately.

The most up-to-date information can be obtained by registering for the Community Emergency Alert Network, viewing the Fairfax County Emergency Blog, and listening to local TV and radio.

Evacuation Plan

Officials may give an order to evacuate. Planning for these scenarios is important for helping assure that your family knows how to gather after the emergency. Use these tips to help develop your family evacuation plan:

  • Draw a floor plan of your home and mark two escape routes from each room.  Assure that each family member understands the escape routes.
  • Establish two meeting locations in the event of an emergency – near the home and outside the immediate area.
  • Become familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation in your area.
  • Exercise the plan.

Shelter-in-Place (Stay Where You Are)

Whether you are at home, work or elsewhere, there may be situations when it’s best to stay where you are and avoid any uncertainty outside. There are other circumstances when staying put and creating a barrier between yourself and potentially contaminated air outside, a process known as "sealing the room," is a matter of survival. Use available information to assess the situation. If you see large amounts of debris in the air, or if local authorities say the air is badly contaminated, you may want to take this kind of action.

The process used to seal the room is considered a temporary protective measure to create a barrier between you and potentially contaminated air outside. It is a type of sheltering in place that requires preplanning. 

  • Bring your family and pets inside.
  • Lock doors, close windows, air vents and fireplace dampers.
  • Turn off fans, air conditioning and forced air heating systems.
  • Take your emergency supply kit unless you have reason to believe it has been contaminated.
  • Go into an interior room with few windows, if possible.
  • Seal all windows, doors and air vents with plastic sheeting and duct tape. Consider measuring and cutting the sheeting in advance to save time.
  • Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to seal gaps so that you create a barrier between yourself and any contamination.

Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.

Related Information

Contact Fairfax County: Phone, Email or Twitter | Main Address: 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
Technical Questions: Web Administrator

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