Sheltering-in-Place is a safety action you should take when the outside air poses a health risk or if it would be dangerous to be outside because of windstorms or other hazards. You could be asked to Shelter-in-Place when it’s not safe to evacuate.
When you are directed to Shelter-in-Place you should follow these steps:
- GO indoors with your children and pets
- CLOSE windows and doors
- MONITOR Local Radio and Social Media for further instructions
There may be situations when you will want to take extra precautions and seal up a room. The process used to seal a room is considered a temporary protective measure to create a barrier between you and potentially contaminated air outside. It is a type of sheltering in place that requires pre-planning. Steps to sealing a room are listed below:
- Bring your family and pets inside.
- Lock doors, close windows, air vents, and fireplace dampers.
- Turn off fans, air conditioning, and forced air heating systems.
- Take your emergency supply kit unless you have reason to believe it has been contaminated.
- Go into an interior room with few windows, if possible.
- Seal all windows, doors and air vents with 2 – 4-millimeter thick plastic sheeting and duct tape. Consider measuring and cutting the sheeting in advance to save time.
- Cut the plastic sheeting several inches wider than the openings and label each sheet.
- Duct tape plastic at corners first and then tape down all edges.
- Dampen towels and place over the cracks under doors.
- Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to seal gaps so that you create a barrier between yourself and any contamination.
- Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should watch TV, listen to the radio, or check the internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.
- Don’t air out or leave your sealed shelter until you are told to do so.
- If ordered to evacuate, do so immediately, and carefully follow directions. Do not wander about; know where you are going and how to get there.
- Avoiding chemical exposure should be your primary goal. Leaving your sheltered area to rescue or assist victims can be a deadly decision.
- In a chemical emergency, there is very little an untrained volunteer can do to help victims. Stay in your sheltered area until authorities determine it is safe to come out.
- If you were outside before taking shelter and think you may have been exposed to a chemical agent, there are several things you can do. If you are in a sealed shelter, take off at least your outer clothes, put them in a plastic bag and seal the bag. If water is available, wash or take a cool to warm (not hot) shower, using lots of soap and water. Do not put the soap in your eyes, just lots of water. If you leave the area, tell emergency responders or medical staff at your destination you may have been exposed. Tell the emergency responders about the sealed bag so that they can arrange for its safe removal after the emergency.
- If you have symptoms of exposure, call 9-1-1 immediately and follow their instructions.