Shelters (Evacuation and Emergency)

Shelters provide a safe place for individuals affected by emergency events to reside. These shelters can provide a variety of services such as food, sleeping quarters, sanitation facilities, and medical care. Environmental health practitioners perform many critical functions in shelters; examples include conducting shelter assessments, testing drinking water supplies, conducting food safety inspections, and evaluating general safety and sanitation.

Mass Shelter

CDC Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response – how to prepare, and plan for shelter safety after disasters:

Environmental Health Training in Emergency ResponseExternal – training addresses information on shelters and many environmental health topics commonly faced in response to emergency events

Internet-Based Morbidity and Mortality Surveillance Among Hurricane Katrina Evacuees in Georgia – use and analysis of data from Internet-based surveillance forms for evacuation shelters and an Internet-based death registry in Georgia’s public health response to Hurricane Katrina

Public Health Surveillance During a Disaster – information to assess the human health impacts of a disaster and evaluate potential problems such as disease outbreaks

MMWR – Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports

Hurricane Katrina Response and Guidance for Health-Care Providers, Relief Workers, and Shelter Operators. MMWR – guidelines for Hurricane Katrina response

Norovirus Outbreak Among Evacuees from Hurricane Katrina—Houston, Texas, September 2005. MMWR – preliminary epidemiologic data from norovirus outbreak investigation

Surveillance in Hurricane Evacuation Centers – Louisiana, September–October 2005. MMWR – development and implementation of a surveillance system in evacuation centers, types of data collected and how they were used, and limitations of the data

Tuberculosis Transmission in a Homeless Shelter Population—New York, 2000–2003. MMWR – investigation of tuberculosis transmission among residents of a homeless shelter for men

Widespread Outbreak of Norovirus Gastroenteritis Among Evacuees of Hurricane Katrina Residing in a Large “megashelter” in Houston, Texas: Lessons Learned for Prevention Cdc-pdf[PDF – 515 KB] – investigation underscoring the difficulties in managing such outbreaks of norovirus gastroenteritis in crowded settings and the need for rapid, sensitive laboratory assays to detect norovirus

Links to information from outside CDC

A Guide for Local Jurisdictions In Care and Shelter Planning Cdc-pdf[PDF – 431 KB] (Alameda County Operational Area Emergency Management Organization) – planning information and guidelines relevant for local government consideration before opening disaster shelters

American Red Cross Disaster Services UpdateExternal (American Red Cross) – the ARC provides up-to-date information on disaster awareness, preparedness, training, planning, response, and recovery

Disaster Field Manual for Environmental Health SpecialistsExternal (California Conference of Directors of Environmental Health) – field guide to help environmental health professionals respond to various major disasters

Emergency Response for People Who Have Access and Functional Needs: A Guide For First RespondersExternal (Center for Public Safety Innovation) – guidance for emergency responders in assisting people who have access and functional needs during an emergency situation

Environmental Health in Emergencies and Disasters: A Practical GuideCdc-pdfExternal

Guidance on Planning for Integration of Functional Needs Support Services in General Population Shelter Cdc-pdf[PDF – 7.3 MB]External (Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA) – planning guidance for emergency managers and shelter planners to meet access and functional needs in general population shelters

Infection Prevention and Control for Shelters During Disasters Cdc-pdf[PDF – 1.7 MB]External (Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc.) – planning recommendations/guidance that can be used for preparedness and response to potential emergencies involving infection control issues in shelters

National Disaster Housing Strategy Cdc-pdf[PDF – 2.9 MB]External (Federal Emergency Management Agency) – information on disaster recovery including sheltering and housing resources

Public Health Guidance Documents for Evacuation Shelters Cdc-pdf[PDF – 76 KB] (Dallas County Health and Human Services) – environmental health shelter recommendations, including prevention of and response to gastrointestinal disease outbreaks and respiratory disease outbreaks and an environmental health evacuation shelter assessment form

Shelter Field Guide: FEMA P-785 Cdc-pdf[PDF – 2.34 MB]External (Federal Emergency Management Agency) – guide to give organizations a basic overview of shelter operations for opening, operating, and managing an emergency shelter

Shelter Health: Essentials for Care of People Living in ShelterExternal (National Health Care for the Homeless Council) – guides to help shelter providers and public health respond more effectively to the health needs of residents

Shelter Operations Management Toolkit [PDF – 330 KB]External (American Red Cross) – toolkit provides Shelter Managers with the resources to plan for, open, operate, and close shelters.

South Central Public Health PartnershipExternal – trains professionals to protect the public

The Twin Cities Metro Advanced Practice CenterExternal – tools and resources for preparedness that can be used by public health departments nationwide, including

Page last reviewed: April 3, 2013