Shelter-In-Place


In certain types of events, especially where chemical, biological, radiological or other hazardous materials are released into the atmosphere, your safest response procedure may be to stay where you are until it’s okay to move. This is typically a short-term measure (in most cases lasting only a few hours) that allows first responders time to better assess the situation, while providing protection for your family. Slightly different than finding refuge from severe weather, this precaution (commonly called Shelter-in-Place) instructs individuals to creates a barrier between the contaminated air and themselves by seeking shelter in a small, interior room with few windows.
Should a decision be made to have residents Shelter-in-Place, instructions will be distributed through local media, alerts, websites and other means. Here are some simple steps to follow, should Shelter-in-Place instructions be issued:

  1. Go inside immediately. Bring all members of your family or workplace, including pets.
  2. Securely close all windows and doors.
  3. Turn off or close fans, air conditioners, heating systems and fireplace flues that move air into the facility.
  4. Move to an interior room that can accommodate your group and seal windows and doors. Use towels, blankets, plastic sheets and tape to cover vents, gaps along windows or doors, and other areas where air could enter the room. Be sure to bring your emergency kit with you for supplies.
  5. Listen for further instruction via media outlets, smartphone applications, websites, social media or other outlets.
Additional Considerations

Considerations for your home

  • Is your Emergency Kit stocked with supplies for all who may be with you (including pets)?
  • Does your designated safe room provide adequate space for all family members, guests, pets and others in your home?
  • Do you have communication methods/information sources to receive updates and let others know that you’re ok? Whenever possible, please consider texting or social media, so as not to tie-up phone lines during an emergency.

Considerations for your work
  • Are all employees and regular visitors aware of the safety procedures and response plan?
  • Does your safe room provide adequate space and supplies for all employees and others at the facility (including customers and visitors who may not know the plan?
  • Do you know who is on site, and can you account for all of them?
  • Can you deactivate phone systems, so as to not tie up the network? After doing this, do you still have means for communicating with others?
  • Do you know the process for turning off the building’s ventilation system?
  • Who is responsible for various duties?

Considerations for schools
  • Does everyone know the safety plan or are there signs to direct actions?
  • Do you have adequate space and supplies for all staff, students and guests (accounting for all personnel)?
  • What is the process for alerting parents and outsiders to know the well-being of those on site? Is there a policy for children/staff communicating with others, and how do parents call in/communicate?
  • Can you deactivate phone systems, so as to not tie up the network? After doing this, do you still have means for communicating with others?
  • Do you know the process for turning off the building’s ventilation system?
  • Who is responsible for various duties?

Considerations for your pet
  • Do you have sufficient food, water, bedding, sanitation, shelter supplies for indoor pets in your safe zone or emergency supply kit?
  • How would you collect animals and bring them into safe zone?
  • What will you do about outdoor animals/livestock that require assistance?

Considerations for in your vehicle or while driving
  • If you are close to home, work or a familiar/public building, you should go there immediately and follow plans.
  • If you are not in a familiar location, stop driving, pull to a safe location.
  • Turn off engine, close windows and vents, seal if possible.
  • Contact family/other to alert to well-being