Sheltering vs. Evacuation

Depending on the situation, it may be best to stay indoors and shelter-in-place or it may be necessary to evacuate. It is important to gather as much information as possible in order to make the best possible decision.

If there is the potential for debris flying or if officials have said that the air is badly contaminated then it may be important to seal the room: 
  • Bring all family and pets inside.
  • Lock doors, close windows, air vents and fireplace dampers.
  • Turn off fans, air conditioning and forced-air heating systems.
  • Take your emergency supply kit into a room with no windows that is located in the interior of the house.
  • Seal all windows, doors and air vents with plastic sheeting and duct tape.
  • Be informed. Watch television, listen to the radio or check the internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.
  • After an evacuation is requested, it may be for a large part of Mesquite or for just a small area. It is important to pay attention to who is asked to evacuate and which direction.
The City does not have public storm shelters because while they may seem like a good idea, they often come with more risks than benefits to residents including:
  • Opening public buildings as storm shelters gives a false sense of security and offers no more protection than a well-built residential structure. 
  • Traveling to a public storm shelter could put you at greater risk than if you sheltered in place. 
  • Traffic is likely to get congested if everyone is heading toward one location. Your vehicle is one of the most dangerous places to be during a tornado.
  • Tornadoes can happen at night. If a storm wakes you at 2 a.m. you likely won’t have enough time to gather your family, load them into a car and drive to a storm shelter. Sheltering in place affords you the quickest and best protection for a short notice event.
  • The City has not built public storm shelters because it would be impossible to shelter even a small percentage of the population. If we were to do this, we are required to build enough shelters to hold more than over 135,000 residents.
  • We encourage all of our citizens to maintain situational awareness during severe weather events and be prepared to shelter in place if necessary.

While evacuation may be unlikely it is still something that should be planned for.  Evacuations are more common than many people realize.  Fires and floods cause evacuations most frequently across the U.S., not to mention the possibility of transportation and/or industrial accidents with harmful substance releases that may force a population to leave their homes.  There are two types of evacuations.

Advised - a decision you must make to avoid a potentially dangerous situation
Mandatory - where local officials require or order you to evacuate for life safety

Planning beforehand on how you will assemble your family and supplies, where you would go, and selecting various destination routes will make the evacuation process flow more smoothly.

Evacuation Tips:

  • Select a pre-designated place to meet your family (activate your Family Emergency Plan)
  • Don't forget your emergency supply kit
  • Become familiar with alternate transportation routes
  • Don't wait until the last minute, leave early enough to reduce risk of getting trapped
  • If you don't have a car, plan how you will leave if you have to evacuate
  • Have a battery operated radio ready and listen for current information and conditions
  • Maintain a half tank of gas in your vehicle at all times
  • Lock your doors behind you
  • Don't forget your pets but understand that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters

  •  Here are basic tornado safety tips that will help you find the most ideal location to shelter during a storm.
Basic Tornado Safety Tips
  • Get to the lowest possible level of a building or structure (Ex: First floor, basement, storm cellar).
  • An interior room with no windows, such as a closet or bathroom, also works if no basement or storm cellar is available.
  • Get underneath sturdy piece of furniture and cover neck and head.
  • Avoid places / rooms with wide-span roofs (cafeterias, gymnasiums, shopping malls).
  • Mobile Homes are not safe shelters; you should make plans before the storm arrives to get to a pre-planned shelter.
  • Apartment dwellers should have a plan in place to get to an apartment on the lowest level of the complex.
  • Do not attempt to outrun a tornado in your automobile, seek shelter inside a nearby building. 
  • Be sure not to choose a large box store with a wide-span roof.If stranded outside lie down in a ditch or low lying area away from the vehicle, but remain aware of possible flash flooding.
  • Do not seek shelter underneath a bridge or overpass.