Evacuation Facts, Chemical Incident

Some kinds of chemical accidents or attacks may make staying put dangerous. In such cases, it may be safer for you to evacuate, or leave the immediate area. You may need to go to an emergency shelter after you leave the immediate area.


  • You will hear from the local police, emergency coordinators, or government on the radio and/or television if you need to evacuate.

  • If there is a "code red" or "severe" terror alert, you should pay attention to radio and/or television broadcasts so you will know right away if an evacuation order is made for your area.


  • Act quickly and follow the instructions of local emergency coordinators. Every situation can be different, so local coordinators could give you special instructions to follow for a particular situation.

  • Local emergency coordinators may direct people to evacuate homes or offices and go to an emergency shelter. If so, emergency coordinators will tell you how to get to the shelter. If you have children in school, they may be sheltered at the school. You should not try to get to the school if the children are being sheltered there.

  • The emergency shelter will have most supplies that people need. The emergency coordinators will tell you which supplies to bring with you. Be sure to bring any medications you are taking.

  • If you have time, call a friend or relative in another state to tell them where you are going and that you are safe. Local telephone lines may be jammed in an emergency, so you should plan ahead to have an out-of-state contact with whom to leave messages. If you do not have private transportation, make plans in advance of an emergency to identify people who can give you a ride.

  • Evacuating and sheltering in this way should keep you safer than if you stayed at home or at your workplace. You will most likely not be in the shelter for more than a few hours. Emergency coordinators will let you know when it is safe to leave the shelter and anything you may need to do to make sure it is safe to re-enter your home.


You can contact one of the following:

  • Your state and local health departments

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov

  • Emergency Preparedness and Response Web site: www.bt.cdc.gov

This fact sheet is based on CDC's best current information. It may be updated as new information becomes available.