What you should bring to an evacuation shelter

Hurricane shelters could be crowded this season

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With several local counties issuing evacuation orders for Hurricane Ian, the Red Cross offered some advice for those preparing to head to shelters.

The Red Cross distinguishes between pre-storm evacuation shelters and post-storm shelters.

Pre-storm shelters are typically only meant to house residents for 12-72 hours until the storm moves through. Residents are encouraged to bring their sleeping supplies such as cots and blankets because it may not be possible or practical to move in supplies for such a short term.

So what should you bring with you to the hurricane evacuation shelter?

  • Bedding (sleeping bags or air mattresses, pillows, sheets and blankets)
  • Clothing, eyeglasses
  • Medications
  • Your child’s stuffed animal, blanket or other “lovey”; Books, magazines, cards, games, etc
  • Your emergency kit (a five-day supply of water, non-perishable food, flashlight and extra batteries, manual can opener, Personal grooming and hygiene items, feminine supplies)
  • Personal identification/important papers

And your pet! If it’s not safe for you to stay at home, it’s not safe for your pet either. When possible, Red Cross shelter workers will do all they can to accommodate domesticated pets comfortably, but depending on the situation, pets may need to be housed in a different location with support from animal welfare groups. Pet shelters are intended to accommodate animals that live in your home, such as dogs and cats, as well as small birds, rodents, fish, amphibians, and reptiles in enclosures. Please bring your pet(s) with you if you going to a pet-friendly shelter, and a shelter worker will help you when you arrive.

Service animals are always welcome in Red Cross emergency shelters and are not considered pets.

The Red Cross works to transition evacuation shelters into post-storm shelters as soon as possible.

Post-storm shelters are available for residents who have been evacuated and are unable to reach their homes or whose homes are damaged or destroyed. Post-storm shelters usually open within 72 hours after landfall and may provide sleeping support items such as cots, blankets and pillows, meals, shower facilities, and health and mental services.

Anyone who needs a safe place to go can find information for open Red Cross shelters on redcross.org, the free Red Cross Emergency app or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767). Download the app by searching “American Red Cross” in your app store or by going to redcross.org/apps. You can also check with local officials and monitor local news for information on where to find emergency shelter.

The Red Cross app also provides real-time alerts and safety advice for hurricanes and other emergencies.

About the Author:

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.