Sheltering In Place

Sheltering In Place

A Guide to Help Keep You and Your Family Safe Indoors
Sheltering-In-Place  (printable brochure) Shelter-in-Place.jpg

What is Shelter-in-Place?
Sheltering-In-Place (SIP) means to take shelter where you are, remaining inside your home, workplace, or a nearby building due to dangerous air conditions outside. (This is NOT the same thing as taking shelter during a storm).

When should you Shelter-in-Place?
In public health emergencies, sometimes the safest place is 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. Sheltering in place is very successful.

How will you know when to Shelter-in-Place?
Emergency officials, local radio and/or television stations, and/or the OakAlert emergency notification system 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.  While 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 above ground level to avoid vapors that sink. Prepare an emergency supplies kit (see below).  Hold practice drills.

When Sheltering-in-Place...

  • 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.

What about children at school?

It is extremely important that you do NOT attempt to come to the school to remove your student. The shelter in place approach has proven to be much safer then evacuating students into potentially contaminated outdoor environments.

When is it safe to come out of the shelter?
Keep listening to your radio/television until you are told it is safe or you are told to evacuate by local officials.

What should you do when a warning is issued?

If you are at home:
  • Get everyone indoors immediately (including pets) if instructed to do so by authorities.
  • Lock exterior doors and windows and close all the drapes and curtains.
  • Turn off all heating and cooling systems, close fireplace dampers, vents and/or fans.
  • Quickly collect your Shelter-in-Place kit, once inside the shelter-in-place room(s).
  • 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.
  • Remain in the pre-designated room until an "All Clear" message has been given by emergency authorities.

    If you are in a building:

    1. Follow the building's procedures for Shelter-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 heat/air conditioning.
    3. Listen to the radio for updates.

    Emergency Shelter-in-Place Kit Checklist:
    If is important to prepare your kit in advance and store them in your pre-selected room where you plan to shelter.

    • Battery-powered (include batteries) or hand-crank flashlight
    • Battery-powered (include batteries) or hand-crank radio
    • Pre-cut and labeled plastic sheeting for windows and doors
    • One gallon of water per person per day for a minimum of three days
    • Duct tape for sealing cracks around doors and windows
    • Towels for sealing off the bottom of the door(s)
    • Scissors to cut duct tape
    • First aid kit containing medicines, etc.
    • Multipurpose tool
    • Sanitation/personal hygiene items
    • 1 gallon of water per person, per day for a minimum of 3 days
    • Extra clothes and bedding
    • Copies of personal documents
    • Family and emergency contact information
    • Extra cash
    • All Hazard NOAA weather radio (include batteries)
    • Games and books to pass the time
    • Other necessities (for pets, etc.)

    Check the supplies of you kit and conduct a Shelter-in-Place drill twice a year.