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What are evacuation shelters?
Evacuation shelters are provided for public use in the event an evacuation becomes necessary and if you have no other place to go. It is recommended that other arrangements be made with a friend or relative that lives in a well-constructed home, out of the evacuation area, and properly protected to withstand hurricane force winds. You will be more comfortable in a less crowded environment and among friends.

Buildings used for evacuation shelters are normally public schools that are staffed by specially trained American Red Cross volunteers and staff. Shelters are generally crowded, usually uncomfortable (especially when the power goes off, since there is no ventilation), have long lines to use restrooms and get food, and are very noisy, making it difficult to rest or sleep. Keep in mind you may have to stay in the shelter for several days. 

How will I know if a shelter is open? 
Shelter openings in Escambia County vary with each emergency. Openings will be announced through all means possible, including local media outlets, press conferences and public meetings. Do not go to a shelter until you have verified that it is open. Click here to view a map of shelters during a disaster

What do I take to a shelter? 
If you go to a public shelter, you will need to take the following items to support you and your family for four days:

  • A change of clothing, rain gear and sturdy shoes
  • Toiletries and personal items
  •  Blankets or sleeping bags and pillows
  • ID and any important papers
  • Games, toys or books for children
  • Books for adults
  • Special items for infants or elderly family  members
  • Any special dietary needs & non-perishable foods for snacks
  • Battery-operated radio, flashlights and  plenty of spare batteries
  • Prescription medications or any over- the-counter medications you normally take

What conduct is not allow in shelters?

  • Smoking is not permitted inside the shelter. A designated smoking area will be identified outdoors, weather permitting. 
  • Individuals who do not follow the shelter rules will be removed. 
  • Escambia County and its partner agencies will not be responsible for any lost personal belongings or equipment.
  • Personal belongings or equipment brought to the shelter should be marked with your name.
  • Do not bring weapons of any sort (knives, guns, etc). Alcohol is not permitted at the shelter. Weapons and alcohol will be confiscated by shelter staff and either turned over to law enforcement or disposed of.

Special Needs Shelters

When does the special needs shelter open?

The special needs shelter will open at the discretion of the Escambia County Public Safety Department, along with general community shelters.  Residents are urged to monitor local media outlets for further information.

How do I get to the shelter?

After consulting with your physician/if you think you qualify for the special needs shelter, the Escambia County Transit Authority may provide you transportation round trip from your home to the shelter only upon request.  Please reference your registration form for further specifications, including wheelchair accessibility. Contact ECAT for more information at 850-595-3228.

What preparations should be made before coming to a shelter? 


  • Consult with your physician regarding best sheltering options. 
  • Home healthcare clients should discuss emergency plans with your caregiver or agency. Have the contact information for your caregiver or agency with you at the shelter.
  • Alert family members of your emergency plan prior to arriving at the shelter.
  • Consult with your medical equipment provider to ensure you will have adequate supplies upon your return home.
  • Phone service and availability cannot be guaranteed at the shelter.  Bring a fully charged cell phone with you as the shelter cannot accept phone calls for individuals under its care.

What are the special needs shelter accommodations?

Severity of emergencies varies and depending on each situation, the following may be available to those staying in the shelter and their caregivers: 

  • Shower facilities
  • Meals up to three times per day if available (special dietary needs not available)
  • Electrical outlets are available for medical equipment only.
  • Caregivers will not receive a cot.
Click here for more information about the Special Needs Shelter.
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