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Sheltering and Evacuation

During an emergency, it is important to know where to get your emergency information and instructions. Equally important is to follow emergency instructions as soon as they are issued. The most common actions the city of Aurora or our Public Safety partners will ask you to perform are to shelter-in place (stay put!) or evacuate (leave now!)


What does Shelter-in-Place mean?

Shelter-in-place means to stay indoors whether in your home, school, business or public buildings. It may also include additional precautions such as turning off fans, air conditioning and forced air heating systems during a hazardous materials emergency. While this may make the facility slightly uncomfortable, it will not become a life-threatening situation.This action could significantly reduce the possibility of contamination of the air inside.


When should I Shelter-In-Place?

Shelter-in-place may be recommended when there is little time to react to an emergency and when it is more dangerous to be outside trying to evacuate than it would be to stay where you are. This method may be recommended in the event of a chemical or biological release, whether accidental or intentional. Most chemical or biological agents released into the air will dissipate in a short period of time.

In most cases, sheltering-in-place will not continue for more than a few hours. If you are told to shelter-in-place at home, take your children and pets indoors immediately. During an emergency, remain aware and immediately follow the protective measures recommended by your local officials and emergency managers. You will be told when it is safe to return and to stop following shelter-in-place procedures.

What about children at school?

Children will be taken inside the school building if they are instructed to shelter-in-place. Although it is natural to want to pick up your children in an emergency, attempting to do so could make matters worse. Contact your children’s school district to determine their evacuation policies and procedures.

Additional information:

American Red Cross Shelter-in-Place


Evacuation traffic

An evacuation can occur at many levels. You may be forced to evacuate your home due to a fire or natural gas leak; whereas the remainder of 

your neighborhood is not affected. Your street or neighborhood could be evacuated due to a serious threat to public safety. Generally, the hazards that Aurora face will not require a full citywide evacuation. If you are told to evacuate, through either local media or directly by city officials, do so immediately. It is important to know what do before, during and after an evacuation.

Before an evacuation

  • Know the evacuation routes for your home in case of a fire.

  • Know the evacuation plans for important locations (i.e. work, children’s school, etc.).

  • Plan several different places you could go and find out where designated shelters are in your area.

  • Get to know your neighbors and find out what their strengths and limitations are. The elderly, medically fragile, disabled, those with small children, those that do not speak English as a primary language may need extra help in an evacuation.

During an evacuation

  • Hotels and motels fill up fast during evacuations. Call to make sure there is room for you and your family before driving there. Check on your neighbors especially the elderly, disabled, or those with small children. They may need extra help or transportation.

  • Ensure you have adequate care for your pets. Take your pets with you.

  • Keep phone numbers and maps for each potential evacuation location.

  • Wear sturdy shoes and appropriate clothing.

  • Take your go bag and pet supply kit.

  • Lock your house.

  • Leave a note telling people when you left and where you are going.

  • In a large scale evacuation, leave a note on your door informing first responders that you have evacuated safely.

  • Use authorized routes. Generally, the city of Aurora will attempt to use snow routes as authorized evacuation routes; however, follow the guidance of local authorities.

  • When you are safe, call your out-of-area contact and let him or her know where you are.

After an evacuation

  • Only return to your home or neighborhood when cleared to do so by local authorities.

  • Help children understand what has happened and that they would not be allowed back in their home if it was not safe.

  • Report anything suspicious or unusual to authorities. (Example: unusual debris)

  • If utilities were turned off, ensure it is safe to turn back on. Never attempt to turn on natural gas by yourself. Contact your gas provider.

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