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Learn How to Shelter-In-Place

Some emergencies, such as chemical spills or nuclear accidents, may require you to shelter-in-place. When this happens, there are specific actions you can take to ensure that you and your family are protected from any dangerous effects associated with the released materials.

Sheltering-in-place is very different than simply staying home during a disaster, as you might during a hurricane or winter storm. When you shelter-in-place, you are sealing out as much of the outside environment as you can in order to survive a highly hazardous threat to your health.

Your shelter-in-place location is not your entire house, but rather a specific room in your home that you can easily protect. Ideally, this room is one that is above ground, in the interior of your home, has few or no windows, and has a telephone installed. Identify which room best meets these conditions before a disaster strikes so you don’t have to make such determinations in an actual emergency. There is little danger that the room will run out of oxygen.


Local authorities will provide more information about what to do if such an event occurs.


Key Steps

Take these steps to ensure your safety if you are required to shelter-in-place.


  • If your children are at school, do not go pick them up unless instructed to do so. Schools may be on lockdown procedures themselves and you will be unable to take them home. Additionally, it may not be safe for you to travel outside.
  • Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.
  • Turn off all fans (including bathroom ceiling fans), heating and air-conditioning systems, and close fireplace dampers.
  • Move your Disaster Supply Kit, including a battery-operated radio, into your selected shelter room.
  • Even if a telephone is installed, be sure to bring a mobile phone and charger into the room.
  • Bring pets into the shelter room, and make sure there are newspapers or a litter box for them to relieve themselves.
  • If you are instructed to seal the room, use duct tape and plastic to seal off any doorways, vents, outlets, light switches, or windows.
  • Cover the space under the shelter room door with a wet towel.
  • Notify emergency contacts that you are sheltering-in-place, and have them contact you with important updates about the situation.
  • Listen to your radio to determine when it is safe to come out.



More Information

Developed by the Capitol Region Council of Governments