Being asked to leave a home or business can occur day or night and is usually only done to protect life. Fires, floods, industrial accidents and security issues can all cause evacuations.
The emergency services are responsible for deciding whether an evacuation is necessary. It is the council’s duty to make provision for those who have been made unintentionally homeless for the period of the evacuation.
The council’s ability to set up such facilities and how it will be able to respond will depend on the circumstances of the incident.
Leaving your home
When an evacuation occurs, the emergency services will most likely set up a cordon. A cordon is a controlled area which the emergency services set up for safety or to preserve evidence.
The emergency services will ask everyone within the cordon to leave until it is safe or suitable to return.
The emergency services have no legal duty to remove you from your home unless the cordon has been set up in relation to a terrorism incident. In this case section 36 of the Terrorism Act 2000 applies. A police constable in uniform may order a person in a cordoned area to leave it immediately.
If you are asked to leave the cordoned area as an evacuee, you are advised to take essential items such as medication with you only. This is if time permits.
It’s beneficial to have a grab-bag ready at all times with important items to take with you in an evacuation. See Preparing for Emergencies.
Where to go
If at all possible, you should stay with family and friends as nearby as possible until you are told it is safe to return. If you are evacuated in an emergency you will also need to make arrangements for your pets. See pet welfare below for more information.
If you have no family and friends to go to, the council may establish a rest centre which will provide basic welfare facilities for you.
If a rest centre is established you will be informed of its location and may be asked to make your way to the centre. If it is some distance away, transport may be provided.
If you are evacuated in an emergency, it's up to you as an owner to make arrangements for your pets.
The best way to make sure your pet stays safe is to agree with friends or family in advance that you will take in each other's pets in an emergency. Make sure that this pet sitter does not live in the immediate area, or they may be having to evacuate as well.
It's a good idea to put together a "pet emergency kit" in case you need to evacuate your home. This should contain:
- carrier, litter tray and litter, poo bags
- tinned or dried food, including bowls
- a photograph of your pet for identification purposes, perhaps put a photograph in your purse or wallet now so it is ready when you need it
- lead, collar and identity tag
- any medication your pet needs
If you have advance warning that an evacuation is going to happen, try to place your pets somewhere safe such as a local cattery or boarding kennel.
Local animal charities may be able to help. If you're unable to get your pet to somewhere safe, get in touch and we'll try to help you find suitable accommodation for them.
Planning for an emergency isn't just a good idea for cats, dogs and other indoor pets. Don't forget to consider outside pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs and tortoises as well.
Larger animals and livestock
It's very difficult to evacuate large animals with little notice. Having a plan is vital in case of an emergency.
Some things to keep in mind when creating a plan are:
- aim to evacuate animals as soon as possible to a safe place outside of the immediate area
- arrange your evacuation route in advance and work out an alternative route just in case
- set up safe transportation, make sure that you have available trucks, trailers, or other vehicles suitable for transporting farm animals
- arrange to have experienced animal handlers and drivers to transport them
- take your supplies with you
- at an evacuation site you should have, or be able to readily obtain, food, water, veterinary care, handling equipment and generators if necessary
In an animal disease outbreak, controls are placed over the movement of certain livestock.
This is to reduce the spread of disease and to make sure we can trace the root of the outbreak.
If you are unable to move your diseased livestock or outdoor pets, ensure they are as far from danger as possible.
Arrange for shelter and food to last them several days.