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What to do if you are evacuated

If you are evacuated by the emergency services, support is available from the us and from voluntary agencies.

Register at a rest centre

If an evacuation is necessary, the police will ask us to set up an emergency rest centre in a safe place nearby.  

At the rest centre you will be asked to provide details of yourself and any family members who are present. This is to help us manage the rest centre and your needs better (e.g. make sure there is enough food available). The Police may also want to contact you to see if you have any information that might help them find out what caused the emergency.

Facilities at a rest centre

The facilities available at an emergency rest centre vary with the location and type of building. However, we can normally provide:

  • light refreshments – tea, coffee, water

  • light meals (where possible)

  • toilet and hand-washing facilities

  • private areas for prayer, nursing mothers or young children

  • first aid facilities when St John Ambulance or the British Red Cross are present

  • seating and very basic sleeping facilities, e.g. blankets, airbeds.

Please remember: Staff in the rest centre will be working under difficult conditions and many of them will be volunteers. You can usually identify them from their uniform or from their high-viz clothing. We ask that you be patient but if you need help or need to talk about your experience a member of staff will try to assist you.

Contact family and friends

If you think that friends and relatives might have heard about the emergency, and could be concerned about your welfare, then it is probably a good idea to try to contact them. We are happy to help you if necessary. If you prefer to stay with relatives or friends instead of staying at the rest centre we can also help you with transport.

Please bear in mind that everyone’s needs are important and we would appreciate you being patient if you have to wait while we help others.

During your stay at a rest centre

Once you’ve registered at the centre, you can come and go whenever you like. However, we are required to know where you are in case we get enquiries from your friends or relatives – especially if a telephone hotline has been set up. You will need to sign in and out and let us know where you’re going so we can account for you. It also means we will be able to let you know as soon as it's safe to return home.


If you need help with children or babies, we will try to provide a quiet place which is separate from the main rest area. If you need help, please talk to a member of staff. We will not allow anyone except trained and qualified staff to help with children.

Medication and first aid

If you need medicine, but do not have this with you, staff will help you get it.

Volunteers at the rest centre may not have first aid training. However, volunteers from the British Red Cross or St John Ambulance will be able to provide this if they are present. For insurance reasons, and to avoid difficulties, we will not allow anyone except trained staff carry out first aid.


If you have a pet with you please keep it under control. Under certain conditions, or if the pet is causing other people to be anxious, we may ask you to move to a separate area of the rest centre. In some cases the RSPCA may be able to help accommodate pets or assist with minor injuries but if this is necessary, we will ask an inspector to attend.

Smoking, alcohol and drugs

In order to provide a safe and comfortable environment, smoking, drinking alcohol and the unlawful consumption of restricted drugs is not allowed in the centre.

Alternative accommodation

If you have been evacuated from your home in the borough and have not been able to return home for more than 24 hours because of the emergency, we will help you look for alternative accommodation. We will help you make arrangements to stay with family or friends or, if this is not possible, we will help you find temporary accommodation. This process takes time, so please be patient.

Media enquiries

Emergencies sometimes attract the attention of the media, and journalists might be in the area trying to get photos and comments about the incident. Rest centres need to provide a sanctuary during a time of emergency and so we will not allow any media into a rest centre. If you want to speak to journalists, you will need to leave the premises and discuss any matter with them outside the boundary of the rest centre.

If you believe a journalist or photographer is in the rest centre, please let a member of staff know.

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