Sheltering in Place

In an emergency the authorities may advise you to remain in your homes or place of employment (called sheltering in place) which is when there has been a chemical or gas leak, or a terrorist attack where airborne agents are involved.


For sheltering at home, be certain that you have the necessary food and water supplies, as well as any other supplies your family may need prepared in advance.


Also, prepare for this possibility by having a plan and a sheltering in place kit. Preparing this kit in advance will speed up the process of safeguarding yourself and your family. If the authorities give the order to take precautionary measures, you'll be prepared to take immediate action.


You should have a safe room, preferably an inner room without any windows, such as a bathroom. All should know which room is the safe room.


If the order is given, close and lock all exterior doors and windows. Turn off the heating system or cooling system if it's the case, and any other systems or vents that connect with the outside of your house, then head for your safe room with your kit and supplies. Be certain to bring your pets as well.


Do not use the telephone because the system can easily be overloaded. Do not leave your home to pick up your children at school because the schools will have their own plan. The authorities will reunite the families in due time. However, I would recommend that you see with the school to know what they will do in the event of such a scenario, and perhaps the authorities and local government as well. They will be in a better position to advise you than I can. Do this BEFORE an emergency might occur.


In this kit you should have duct tape as well as pre-cut plastic sheeting to cover the door, any floor or ceiling vents and electrical outlets, in order to seal off your safe room. Seal around the door frame as well, not just the crack between the door and the molding. Also seal around the piping under the sink as well, and any other place where there may be a leak into the room. Label the plastic sheeting that you had cut to size to more easily know where the pieces go if you needed to install them at some future date.


Be certain to have included a battery operated radio with spare batteries in your kit, to be able to listen and keep up to date with the latest developments and counsel from the authorities. A scanning receiver type radio would be great as well so you could listen in to more things. However beware that many scanning receivers are analog and many police, fire and other emergency services have moved or may plan to move to digital communications. Do some research for your area to know what is best. A local ham club (amateur radio) might be able to help out.


If the authorities tell you that it is time to vent your place, leave the safe room and do as you are directed to. If they tell you to leave your home, do so.


Have a 72 hour kit already stocked and ready to go for every member of the family as well, just in case you are required to evacuate the area. If you can, go for a 5 to 7 day kit.


For more detailed info about sheltering in place click here to watch a video.


Here are some links to help you learn more about sheltering in place.

1. National Terror Alert

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

3. Red Cross.org


Have a look at the Videos page for more information on sheltering in place.


Some go as far as positively pressurizing their homes so that the inside pressure is greater than the air pressure outside. What this means is that if there is a leak, it will be from the inside out, not the outside air coming inside. This is advanced preparations however, and may be costly.


Safe Room

If you are in a position to make a real safe room such as when you are planning to build a new home or own a home that can be modified, a safe room is a great idea.


<<WARNING>>


In locking yourself in a room and sealing it off with plastic sheeting and duct tape etc., there is a possibility of carbon dioxide poisoning, and given the body heat that is released into the room it'll become very warm as well, particularly if it is in the summertime and if several people are in the room including pets if you haven't forgotten them. They have the same basic needs as we do.

A large dog as an example can breath in much air and exhale carbon dioxide. Some people recommend against sheltering in place after the manner the government advises which is discussed here. Look into this for yourselves and determine what is best for your family.

Remember as well that if there isn't enough ventilation and you combine that with excessive outdoor temperatures, that your family may experience the dangers of not only carbon dioxide poisoning, but a heat related injury as well such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion or at worse, heat stroke. The very young, the very old as well as other people may be more susceptible to this.


Filtered air handling systems with one-way valves preventing a backflow of contamined air is the way to go if you are in a position to make this set-up. Most people do not have the finances to do it, or they live in apartment buildings.


Do what you can to safeguard yourself and your family according as your situation will permit. Prices vary from a few thousand to several thousand dollars U.S. Do your research including to shop around and check out the companies credentials before making a choice to do business with someone. You want good quality.


Here is a link to help you learn more about the safe rooms.

1. ExtendAir™ OnSiteAir™


These links are for protection from storms.

1. FamilySafe - Certified In-Home Storm Shelters

2. Keep Your Family Safe: Build a Tornado 'Safe Room' in Your Home

3. Residential Safe Rooms


Here is a link to FEMA's Safe Room Construction Plans and Specifications page for pdf and dwg files.

1. Taking Shelter From the Storm


Be certain that you have supplies at home. Do you have a flashlight, yes? How about fresh batteries to go with it? Are both stored in the same location? For a chemical spill scenario, it may only last a few hours before the authorities will give the green light to resume normal activity.


Remember to always have a battery operated radio on hand to be able to receive word on what to do next. A portable television with a built in radio may do as well, provided your area still has over the air television transmissions and that your portable television is compatible. Some areas may transmit over the air but now use digital instead of analog signals. Have spare batteries available!


If it is another kind of emergency where you'll be remaining at home, if the event lasts for a week, or two weeks or longer, can you manage with what you have on hand? Be certain to make proper advanced preparations, so that you can ride out whatever may come your way. Be certain to have the necessary food and water supplies, as well as any other supplies your family may need.


It is best to make advanced preparations. Don't even think about going to the grocery store to get provisions after the onset of an emergency. Within a very short time unprepared and frightened people will flock to the stores and empty the shelves, and don't expect courtesy and common sense from them either. It is also a good practice to keep your fuel tank between half full to full tank at all times.


Set aside enough provisions to be able to last at least one month, even three months to a year if you can swing it. A long term supply takes more preparations as well as room to store it all. You will also need to properly rotate the food, water and other perishable supplies as well, a skill or discipline in itself, but it is possible.


Also have some cash on hand, as well as some change if you need to use the public telephones if they are still working. Have small denominations such as $5, $10 and $20 bills, several quarters, and other change to have variety to choose from if you need to purchase something.


A note on flashlights, is that you should consider getting a quality led headlamp. They are not too expensive and the batteries last a long time with led headlamps or flashlights for that matter. The choice is yours, but hands free is an advantage with the headlamp. Have at least one backup for your battery operated lighting needs. Remember to have extra batteries here as well.


Be certain to include some good candles as part of your supplies too. There are many options for lighting, so have a look at the various links I have provided in the Links page to see what options you find appropriate for your needs. You may of course have a look at your local stores to see what is available. There are some interesting products at dollar or dollar plus stores as well.

Photo Credits

Shelter-In-Place Diagram. Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Resources

<<WARNING>>

In locking yourself in a room and sealing it off with plastic sheeting and duct tape etc., there is a possibility of carbon dioxide poisoning, and given the body heat that is released into the room it'll become very warm as well, particularly if it is in the summertime and if several people are in the room including pets if you haven't forgotten them. They have the same basic needs as we do.


A large dog as an example can breath in much air and exhale carbon dioxide. Some people recommend against sheltering in place after the manner the government advises which is discussed here. Look into this for yourselves and determine what is best for your family.

Remember as well that if there isn't enough ventilation and you combine that with excessive outdoor temperatures, that your family may experience the dangers of not only carbon dioxide poisoning, but a heat related injury as well such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion or at worse, heat stroke. The very young, the very old as well as other people may be more susceptible to this.
Sheltering in Place