What to do in an emergency when you can't stay home

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Some of the critical factors of keeping you and your family safe during an emergency are food, water and shelter, but what if you can’t stay in your house?

The Municipality of Anchorage has 20 to 30 potential shelter sites in the city, most of them schools or rec centers. “We have things pre-staged at multiple shelter locations,” says Lexie Trainer, Emergency Programs Manager with the municipality. “However not all of them have it. Some of them, it would be brought in by the Red Cross.”

Schools and rec centers are often chosen because they have resources already available—large spaces, showers, and places to cook a lot of food. But don’t assume the school in your neighborhood would be a shelter during an emergency.

“Each shelter is somewhat predetermined,” Trainer says. “But we don’t actually say, ‘This is your neighborhood, this is your shelter.’ because the shelter might not be functioning during an emergency.”

The municipality will use Nixle, social media, radio and television to direct people to the correct shelter locations.

As for what to bring with you if you have to go to a shelter, Trainer recommends having a ‘go bag’ with medications, clothing, etc. but shelters will provide the basic needs—cots, blankets, food, water and sometimes clothing.

One of the most frequently asked questions is, “can I bring my pet to the shelter?” Trainer says pets are not allowed in human shelters.

“During a smaller disaster or maybe just like a house fire,” says Trainer, “pets would be boarded or stay with family and friends, if possible. If it’s a large enough disaster, we would actually open a pet shelter.”

During an emergency, the muni runs the facilities used as shelters but the actual “sheltering” functions are done by the Red Cross.

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