Emergency Shelters


Could your community offer emergency shelter to a potentially large number of people for several days?

  • The guide was developed by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to introduce and discuss some of the many aspects of planning for and opening an emergency shelter.
  • The guide provides guidance for shelter coordinators and state and local environmental public health staff to assist in the planning, operating, and evaluation of emergency shelters.
  • The guide provides a brief overview of public health concerns. Also discussed are the concerns for shelter operations; food and water, pest control, waste management, special needs, and life safety.
When disaster strikes, will your community be ready? Probably not!

Statistics indicate that most communities are underprepared for large -scale emergencies.  In many instances, “learn as you go” seems to be the rule.  Not good.  As complex as our social/economic structure is today, the days of “flying by the seat of your pants” are over when it comes to emergency response.  Community members want their emergency response teams to be prepared,  well trained, and ready to go.

That’s a great attitude to have as this generally leads to widespread support and leadership within the community for emergency response teams, programs and facilities.  People within the community understand the value associated with emergency response preparedness.

The addition of Emergency Shelters to an over-all emergency response plan is essential if large numbers of people are to be cared for during and after an environmental or man-made emergency.  Your local city governments, local-county-state law enforcement agencies, local hospitals, ambulance districts, 911 Center, and St.Francois County Health Center are training and preparing for emergency responses of all types.  Schools, day cares, and various types of assisted living facilities should have emergency plans in place.  When emergencies occur, everyone working together is the key to a successful response.

As a community or organization leader (or member) who would like more information
for establishing a community emergency shelter, click the booklet below.
You can download, copy, and print the information.

The Missouri Department of Social Services is the State agency responsible
for coordinating with other departments, agencies and organizations to
accomplish mass care in an emergency shelter.  Shelters for the general
population may be co-located with special needs shelters, or there may
be stand-alone special needs shelters.  The Missouri Department of
Health and senior Services coordinates the public health concerns of
typical shelter operation services in both mass shelters and special
needs shelters to prevent the spread of communicable diseases
associated with environmental exposures.

Hard copies of the shelter guide are available from the Missouri Department
of Health and Senior Services warehouse, Inventory.

Click here for warehouse order form.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed an Environmental Health Shelter Assessment Tool to be used by environmental health practitioners in conducting a rapid assessment of shelter conditions during emergencies and disasters.

Assess your emergency shelter

The tool is an assessment form that covers
14 general areas of environmental health, ranging from basic food safety
and water quality to pet (companion animal) wellness, and allows for
the documentation of immediate needs in shelters. It can be easily modified
to meet local needs. This shelter assessment tool can be found here

If you have any questions, contact the
Office of Emergency Coordination at 573.751.6161