Evacuation

TYPES OF EVACUATION

It is important to understand the types and authority involved in evacuations.  These are:

• Self-evacuation: No formal authority is required.  You may choose to self evacuate at any time if you don’t feel safe. However, please let someone know that you are evacuating and where you are going.
• Voluntary evacuation: Implemented by the Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) in consultation with District Disaster Coordinator
• Directed evacuation: You are ordered to ‘evacuate now’ by the District Disaster Coordinator in consultation with the LDMG. At this stage Council will advise where evacuation centres will be opened. These evacuations are mandatory.  A declaration of a disaster situation is required for directed evacuation.

HOW WILL I KNOW IF I SHOULD EVACUATE?

It is important for you to understand the hazards and reasons you may need to evacuate your home.  If an event should occur you should be ready to go before directed evacuations are enforced.

Evacuations are advised through the following methods:

• Voluntary and directed evacuations will be broadcast through your local radio station (Fact Sheet 5);
• Emergency Services personnel may door knock potentially effected residents to advise on voluntary or directed evacuations;
• Council’s Facebook page, website and community notice boards are kept up to date with the latest information;
• For large scale evacuations a loud speaker drive-by may be the fastest and most effective option;
• Emergency Alert – is the national telephone warning system used by emergency services to send voice messages to landlines and text messages to mobile phones within a defined area, about likely or actual emergencies.  For more information on Emergency Alert visit   http://www.emergencyalert.gov.au/
• Some North Burnett communities have used sirens in the past as an effective way of advising residents of evacuation.  Information about the procedure for sirens will be forwarded to residents where sirens are used before the severe weather season begins.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO BEFORE YOU EVACUATE

For safety and security reasons the following should be undertaken before evacuation, if it is safe to do so:

• Unplug appliances and turn off gas at the bottle, electricity at the mains, and water at the meter;
• Secure and lock all windows and doors;
• Ensure neighbours are aware of alert;
• Take your emergency and evacuation kits (Fact Sheet 2 and 3) with you, including important documents, emergency food supply and emergency bedding;
• Call an out-of-town contact to let them know where you are going;
• Consider leaving a note advising you have evacuated.  Emergency services will then know you are safe and accounted for.  If you leave your pets behind include their name and details on the note.
• Allow for the special needs of infants, the aged and people with disabilities;
• Collect family members or go to your agreed meeting place;
• If you go to an evacuation centre, register your details as soon as you arrive.

WHERE SHOULD YOU EVACUATE TO?

Think about where you might go if you weren’t able to go home, or had to leave home because of an emergency.  It is important to plan where you would stay if an emergency occurs. You should consider staying with family and friends who live in a safe area as your first option.  This enables emergency response teams to help those who have no place to go.

An evacuation centre may be set up for people to shelter while the worst of the emergency passes.  The accommodation in an evacuation centre is very basic (in some cases just a roof over your head).  They tend to be very crowded and noisy.

Once you have made a decision as to where you may go, add this to you Household Emergency Plan (Fact Sheet 1).  Remember to consider different types of events as you may need to consider more than one emergency evacuation point.

Even if you evacuate to a friend or relative’s house, consider registering with the local evacuation centre to help others find you or self-register on the Register.Find.Reunite. service.  This service is launched during emergency situations to help people reconnect with family and friends.  For more information visit https://emergency.redcross.org.au/.

Remember: When you evacuate, take your Evacuation Kit and Emergency Kit with you. Aim to be self sufficient whether at family and friends or an evacuation centre.  Even taking a sleeping bag, pillows and blankets with you can decrease the demand on limited supplies.

WHAT IS AN EVACUATION CENTRE?

An Evacuation Centre is established to provide immediate basic needs to people who are directly affected by an emergency situation and do not have anywhere else to go.  This includes people who may be travelling through the affected area and are unable to progress due to road closures.  They offer short-term accommodation while longer-term alternatives are established.

Halls or gymnasiums are a common location for Evacuation Centres due to the size and facilities they contain.  It is recommended that people seek shelter with family or friends before attending an evacuation centre.

Basic immediate essential needs that are provided in evacuation centres include, where available:

• Shelter
• Basic food
• Basic clothing
• Basic sleeping equipment
• Basic personal hygiene facilities (toilets, hand basin, showers where available)
• Care and support for unaccompanied minors until reunited with their parents/guardians
• Personal support and information about services available to assist
• Assistance with finding temporary accommodation

Please note: evacuation centres are selected to cater for large numbers of people with the most appropriate facilities available at the time.  They are not specifically built to withstand extreme weather events.  They are existing facilities which may also suffer damage during an event.

WHAT TO DO AND EXPECT AT AN EVACUATION CENTRE

When you arrive at an evacuation centre you are expected to:
• Register the name and details of your family with the staff on duty.   This helps in knowing who is at the centre and assisting to reunite evacuated people with friends and family;
• You may be asked to discuss your situation and your immediate needs, and be asked to provide proof of identity and verification that you live in the affected area.
• Those with disabilities or special requirements should make themselves known to the evacuation centre staff so that adjustments can be made to assist if available;
• In most cases the evacuation centre will be managed by a very small group of staff.  Please be considerate and calm when at the Evacuation Centre;
• Sleeping quarters are communal.  Limit loud noises/yelling as this may wake up or frighten young children;
• Smoking and consumption of alcohol in the Centre is prohibited;
• Your personal items are your responsibility.  Secure your valuable and personal items.

Due to there being many people in such a small confined area, the risk of spreading illness is very high.  Maintaining good personal hygiene during your stay can help stop the spread.

• Wash your hands regularly especially after using the toilet;
• Do not share eating utensils or drinking containers;
• Do not share other personal articles such as toothbrushes or towels;
• Maintain a clean living space. Dispose of any food/human waste promptly.

If you leave the evacuation centre please let staff know.  That way people are not worried where you are.

PETS

Don’t forget your pets and animals when making your emergency plan (Fact Sheet 1) and evacuation kit (Fact Sheet 2). Consider what you would do before, and what you would do during an emergency and complete a Pet Plan (Fact Sheet 7).  Evacuating your pets early to family or friends can save a lot of grief when your family evacuates.

If you do not have someone who can look after your pets there may be limited, basic enclosures available to house your pets onsite at the evacuation centre.  Please check with the evacuation centre before bring your pets to be sure there are facilities available.  You will be responsible for your pet whilst they are housed there.  Should your pet cause any issues you may be asked to find a more appropriate location off-site.

STAYING WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS

The generosity we receive during a disaster shows just how strong our sense of community is.  However, living in someone else’s home during the recovery period can be stressful for both you and them.

In major disasters temporary accommodation may be established to help those who can not return to their homes for a few months.  Even if you stayed with family or friends during the initial response you are entitled to make use of these facilities/arrangements.

During your stay with family and friends you may wish to help with duties around the home and contribute towards the bills.

REGISTER.FIND.REUNITE.

This service registers, finds and reunites family, friends and loved ones after an emergency.  Even if you evacuate to a friend or relative’s house, consider registering with the local evacuation centre to help others find you or self-register on the Register.Find.Reunite. service.  This service is launched during emergency situations to help people reconnect with family and friends.  For more information visit https://emergency.redcross.org.au/.

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