Evacuation Terminology

San Luis Obispo County Evacuation Terminology

Becoming familiar with terminology before disaster strikes will allow you to quickly take action upon direction from local officials. Emergency officials will decide whether to evacuate or shelter in place areas based on the nature of the emergency. You will be told what to do over local radio and television stations. Remember, preparing for emergencies in advance is the best way to help protect yourself and your family.

Evacuation Warning

Alerting of community members in a defined area of a potential threat to life and property from an emergency incident.  Be prepared to evacuate.  

Note* Depending on the emergency, there may not be time to issue an Evacuation Warning.  If you receive an Evacuation Warning, gather your family, pets and emergency supplies and be prepared to leave.  For those who know they would be unable to evacuate quickly, consider leaving when a Evacuation Warning is issued.  If you know you need assistance evacuating, don't wait until an Evacuation Order is issued, ask now. 

Evacuation Order

Movement of community members out a defined area due to an immediate threat to life and property from an emergency incident.  Evacuate now. 

Note* In some regions an Evacuation Order is also called a Mandatory Evacuation.  

Shelter In Place

Directing community members to stay inside their current location if a situation does not allow for evacuation or when an evacuation could cause a higher potential for loss of life.


Prohibiting usage or occupancy of a defined area such as a park, beach, or road due to a potential or actual threat to public health and/or safety. Used when public officials want to limit recreating public in the case of a potential emergency.


The return of community members to a previously evacuated are for unrestricted use. Only after threat has been mitigated, infrastructure and utilities are secured, and emergency services have approved of the return.


The temporary reentry of community members for a designated time to an evacuated area i.e. to feed livestock in a potentially contaminated or at risk area.


The long-term or permanent relocation of community members who previously lived in an affected area.

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