Safety & emergency preparedness

Know whether to stay or go

When to shelter-in-place

City of Philadelphia officials will let you know if there is a need to shelter-in-place. In the event of a smaller emergency, officials may go door-to-door. For larger emergencies, check TV and radio news stations, as well as Channel 64, the government access channel, for possible notifications. ReadyPhiladelphia will also send out text and email alerts.

In a gas or chemical release:

  • Stay calm and go inside right away.
  • Close all doors and windows. Lock them if you can.
  • Close the damper of your fireplace.
  • Listen to KYW 1060 AM and other radio stations for news.
  • Keep pets inside with you.
  • Turn off heating and cooling systems if officials tell you to. This includes air conditioners and window exhaust fans.
  • Go to the room you have decided is your shelter-in-place room. This room should be above street level with as few doors and windows as possible. Make sure it has room for everyone in your home. The room should also have a phone jack, electricity, water, and bathroom facilities.
  •  Seal up your doors and window if officials tell you to. You can use tape, wet rags, or towels.
  • Use your shelter-in-place kit so you don’t have to leave the room to get food or other supplies.
  • If you have a medical emergency, call 911.
  • Don’t use your phone for chatting. Keep the line open for emergency calls.

When the emergency is over

Officials will notify you through local news stations and ReadyPhiladelphia, the region’s emergency text and email alert system, when an emergency is over. Only then should you open all doors and windows to let fresh air into your home.

When to evacuate

Be ready—have plans to stay with family or friends if you have to leave your home. It you have nowhere to go, the City will open shelters. You should bring your own clothing, sheets, sanitary supplies, medicines, and your go bag with you. The shelter will have food and water.

If you are told to evacuate your home:

  • Stay calm. Do exactly what officials tell you to do.
  • Close and lock windows and doors if you have time. Unplug appliances before you leave. Officials will tell you if you need to turn off utilities.
  • Let friends and relatives know where you’re going.
  • Wear sturdy shoes and comfortable clothing such as long pants and long-sleeved shirts.
  • Grab your go bag.
  • If you have a medical emergency, call 911.
  • Don’t use an elevator during an emergency. Only use an elevator if emergency personnel tell you to. If the power goes out or is shut off, you could be trapped. If there is a fire in the building, smoke will rise through the elevator shaft, putting you in danger.
  • Evacuation routes can change.  Stay tuned to KYW 1060 AM for the latest information.
  • Make plans to stay with family and friends. If you can’t stay with family and friends, go to the nearest evacuation shelter. Officials may ask you to drive your car, go with a neighbor, or go to a place to get on a bus.

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