Storm Season Safety: Evacuation Warning vs. Evacuation Order


As a significant series of storms continue to impact parts of the state, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) wants to remind all Californians about the importance of being prepared.

Extreme weather like heavy rainfall and snow are contributing to dangerous conditions. To keep people safe, law enforcement often issues evacuation warnings or orders ahead of major emergencies, like weather events, so it’s critical for all Californians to know what it means and how to react to law enforcement guidance.

Evacuation Warning vs. Evacuation Order

An evacuation warning means there’s impending danger to your life or property. If a warning is given assume an evacuation order will follow. Start gathering important items for your family and pets. Any individuals who need extra time to evacuate, or anyone with large animals, should pack-up and leave when a warning is issued.

An evacuation order means there’s an immediate threat to your life and you need to leave right now! It’s critical to follow all directions from law enforcement to ensure you and your family evacuate safely.

When to Evacuate

Leave as soon as evacuation is recommended to avoid being caught flood waters, or road congestion. In some emergencies, officials may not have time to knock on every door. If you are advised to leave, don’t hesitate!

Officials will determine the evacuation areas and escape routes based on the danger’s location, behavior, terrain, etc.

You will be advised of potential evacuations as early as possible. Take the initiative to stay informed and aware.

Do not return to your home until officials determine it’s safe. Notifications will be given as soon as possible and will take into consideration safety and accessibility.

Pack a Go-Bag

When a disaster hits, you might not have time to gather necessary supplies. Pack a Go Bag so it’s ready to grab in case of an emergency. Think about the items you’d take if you only had two minutes to leave your home:

  • Important Documents
  • Cash
  • Medicine & important medical information
  • Phone charger & backup battery

Pet Preparedness Kit

Plan ahead for your pets and know where you will take or leave them during an emergency. During an emergency local animal rescue organizations work with law enforcement and fire departments to rescue as many animals as they can. You should also have a go-bag packed for your animals:

  • Pet carrier for each pet
  • Two-week supply of food and water
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Identification tags
  • Vaccination information
  • Medications and dosing instructions
  • Plastic bags for waste disposal
  • Leashes/collars/harnesses