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Shelter In Place

Shelter-in-Place is an effective way to protect you from harmful chemicals that may be in the air. Emergency officials may tell you to Shelter-in-Place if there is a hazardous materials accident. It is important to take shelter immediately, and to end shelter immediately when told to do so.

Shelter-in-Place is a short-term protection. It requires you to stay inside a sealed room for no more than a few hours until the outside air is again safe to breathe. Harmful vapors can work their way into a closed building and even a sealed room. Therefore, you must leave your shelter when experts decide the outside air is cleaner than what may be inside. Depending on the situation, you may be told to ventilate the shelter and building, go outside or leave the area.

Shelter-in-Place means to go inside your home or the nearest accessible building without delay. Close and lock all windows and doors. Turn off heating, air conditioning and fans (any ventilation system). Shut air vents (heating, cooling, circulation and fireplace or wood-stove dampers). Quickly shut yourself in a room you can seal off from outside air. Select a room with as few exterior windows or other openings as possible so that you can quickly seal it. Block all openings to the room where outside air can leak in. If possible, use pre-cut plastic sheeting and duct tape to seal cracks and openings that may allow outside air to come into that room.

Take a radio into your shelter so that you can monitor an Emergency Alert System (EAS) station for further instructions. If you don’t know which stations are your EAS stations, call your local emergency management agency or Chemical Demilitarization Community Outreach Office now to find out. If the shelter room you selected has no phone, take a cordless or cellular phone with you if you have one. See Shelter-in-Place Kit fact sheet for more information on how to prepare for Shelter-in-Place.

If Tooele County officials recommend Shelter-in-Place:

  • Do not call 9-1-1 unless there is a life-threatening situation such as a heart attack.
  • The schools will protect your children by evacuating or sheltering them. Tune to a local radio or TV station to learn where and when to pick up your children.
  • Bring pets indoors if you can find them quickly.
  • Go to a small room with few vents, windows and doors. A bathroom may be a good choice if you can seal all openings that might allow outside air into the room.
  • Bring a radio with spare batteries, medicine, food or liquids that you might need over the next several hours. If you have a tone-alert radio (indoor warning system) that will work in the shelter room, take it with you.

Follow instructions immediately when told to end shelter. In order to bring fresh, clean air inside for you to breathe, you may be told to let outside air into the shelter and building as quickly as possible. Open windows and doors and turn on all air circulation systems and equipment. Thorough and quick ventilation, once local officials tell you to do so, is crucial so that you breathe fresh air as soon as possible.

You may be told to remain indoors in a well-ventilated location, to go outside or to leave the area and go to a specific location for medical screening and to ensure that everyone leaving the area is accounted for. If you cannot leave the area, you will be given special instructions to keep you safe where you are.

If you know you will not be able to follow shelter or end shelter instructions quickly and effectively without help, ask a neighbor or nearby relative about assistance or call your local emergency management agency now to assist you with your personal or family emergency plan.

Shelter-in-Place Kit

Be prepared for an emergency such as a hazardous materials accident near your home. Make your Shelter-in-Place Kit now so that you can seal your shelter immediately if your local officials instruct you to shelter-in-place.

The basics: Store them in your shelter room.

  • A large bucket (and another container if needed) with lid to hold your supplies
  • Pre-cut and labeled plastic sheeting to cover doors, windows, vents and inset cabinets, mirrors, electrical outlets and switches, etc. (Make sure you cut the plastic at least six inches larger than openings so you can tape it to the wall or floor.)
  • Duct tape (a couple of rolls) to cover smaller openings and cracks that can’t be covered with plastic sheeting and to tape plastic sheeting to walls, ceiling, floor and doors
  • Extra plastic sheeting in case the pre-cut sheeting tears or you need more
  • Scissors to cut the tape and sheeting
  • An AM/FM radio with extra batteries
  • Bottled water (at least one gallon per person) and granola bars or other snacks
  • Toilet tissue (The bucket can be used as a toilet.)
  • A large plastic bag for any contaminated clothing (Seal it with the duct tape.)

The last-minute additions: Make a list of these items and put it in a prominent place so you can find it and the items quickly on your way to your shelter room.

  • A cordless or cellular phone, if you have one
  • Any special health and safety items you can’t store in advance but would need if you have to stay in your shelter for several hours, such as medications and eye glasses
  • Pets

Items you may need or want (depending on who will be in your shelter): Put any of these or other items you feel you’ll need or want with the basics in your shelter room now. Don’t delay taking shelter to search for them. Remember, you won’t be asked to Shelter-in-Place for more than a few hours.

  • Baby supplies (diapers, formula, etc.)
  • Pet supplies
  • Pillows, blankets
  • Toys, books, magazines, puzzles, etc.
  • Snacks with a long shelf life.
  • Change of clothing for each person in your shelter

Have your Shelter-in-Place Kit in your shelter room. Act immediately if instructed to shelter-in-place. Remember, you won’t need to stay in your shelter for more than a few hours.