You are here:

A Guide to Keep You and Your Family Safe

What is shelter in place?
Shelter in place means to take cover in a building, due to the severe air conditions outside.

When should you shelter in place?
Sometimes, in public health emergencies, the safest thing to do is to stay inside.  If the air is unsafe due to an incident involving hazardous chemicals or radiation, local authorities may advise you to "shelter in place," which limits your exposure to the outside air.

How will you know when to shelter in place?
Emergency officials, local radio and/or television stations will inform you when to shelter in place. 

Where do I shelter in-place?
Try to find cover in your own home.  However, this may not always be possible.  You can obtain shelter in any nearby building.  If there are no buildings in the vicinity, remain in your car.  Even though your vehicle is not the ideal shelter, it still will protect you more than remaining outside.

Preparing to shelter in-place?
Pre-select a safe room: Choose a room that has the fewest doors, windows and openings to the rest of the house with a water source (e.g. master bedroom with attached bathroom). The American Red Cross suggests that this room be on the top level of the house. Prepare an emergency supplies kit (see below).  Hold practice drills.

When sheltering in place...

  • Do not go to your children's school.  They have plans in place and will be handling the situation.  Your arrival will only impede the progress.
  • Do not repeatedly call 9-1-1.  Only call emergency service if you have an emergency.
  • Do not seal off the whole house or office building; there will not be enough time to do so.  Instead, focus on sealing one pre-selected room.
  • Do not leave your shelter until given the "all clear" by authorities.
  • Do not risk your life for your pets.  If you cannot get them into the shelter, go into the shelter without them.

When is it safe to come out of the shelter?
Authorities will announce an "all clear" message over an emergency alert system, such as the radio, TV, NOAA all hazards radio, etc.

What should you do when a warning is issued?

  • Remain indoors if instructed to do so by authorities.
  • Lock exterior doors and windows and close all the drapes and curtains.
  • Turn off air conditioning, close fireplace dampers, vents and/or fans.
  • Quickly collect your emergency supplies kit, family and pets and go to your pre-selected room.
  • Place a towel (preferably wet) under the door.
  • Seal all windows, doors and electrical and phone outlets with pre-cut plastic sheeting and tape.
  • Turn on a radio or TV to listen to updates.

    If you are in a building:

    1. Follow the building's procedures on sheltering in place.

    If you are outside:

    1. Seek shelter in a building.  If there are no nearby buildings, then shelter in your car.  Staying outside will increase your exposure to the hazard.

    If you are in your car:

    1. Seek nearby shelter if possible.
    2. If unavailable, close all windows and vents and turn off air conditioning/heater.
    3. Listen to the radio for updates.

    Checklist for an emergency supplies kit:
    Prepare your emergency supplies kit in advance,  Pre-cut plastic sheeting (label each piece) and collect the following items:

    • Crank or battery operated flashlight with extra batteries, if needed
    • Crank or battery-powered radio with extra batteries, if needed
    • A couple gallons of bottled water 
    • Duct tape to seal the pre-cut plastic sheeting around windows, doors and outlets
    • Towels for sealing off the bottom of the door(s)
    • Non-perishable food
    • Scissors to cut duct tape
    • First aid kit containing medicines, etc.
    • Extra clothes and bedding
    • any other necessities