Hazardous Materials and Sheltering in Place
Whether from an accidental spill or an intentional attack, hazardous materials can pose a great danger to you and your family. In the event of an emergency where hazardous materials may have been released into the atmosphere, authorities may instruct you to shelter in place. This is not the same as going to a shelter in case of a storm. Shelter-in-place means selecting a small, interior room with few or no windows and taking refuge.
If the need to shelter in place should arise, local authorities will make announcements through television and radio stations and NOAA weather radios.
How to shelter in place:
- Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.
- If you are told there is danger of explosion, close the window shades, blinds or curtains.
- Turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems.
- Close fireplace dampers.
- Get your family disaster supplies kit and make sure your battery-operated radio is working.
- Go to an interior room with few or no windows that is at or above ground level. In the case of a chemical threat, an above-ground room is preferable because some chemicals are heavier than air, and may seep into basements even if the windows are closed.
- Bring your pets with you, and be sure to bring additional food and water supplies for them.
- It is ideal to have a hard-wired telephone in the room you select. Cellular telephone equipment may be overwhelmed or damaged during an emergency.
- Use duct tape and plastic sheeting (heavier than the kind used to wrap food) to seal all cracks around the door and any vents into the room.
- Keep listening to your radio or television until you are told all is safe or you are told to evacuate. Local officials may call for evacuation in specific areas at greatest risk in your community.
Sheltering-in-place is meant to protect you and your family for a few hours. According to experts, a tightly sealed, 10’ x 10’ room will have enough oxygen to last one person for about five hours.
Shelter-in-place techniques are effective because they are easily and quickly accomplished. In a matter of moments, you can be safe inside your pre-selected room. For more information about shelter-in-place, contact your local emergency management office.