Description of the Concept

Shelter-in-place is a protective action that can be requested by the local authorities to the community. Shelter-in-place can be defined as a procedure that basically requires residents to seek shelter, close doors and windows, and seal vents, doors, and windows. This provides a physical protective barrier from the airborne chemical and contained non-contaminated air. Studies have shown that even poorly sealed buildings offer protection from large exposure to gas.


Shelter-in-place instructions are given in emergencies when risk to chemical exposure will adversely affect health or life due to the known or unknown properties of the chemical, volume released, and rapid movement of chemical through the air. Chemical emergencies requiring shelter-in-place usually only occur over a short length of time such as 3-4 hours.

When asked to shelter-in-place, proceed to home or nearest building, shut down ventilation systems, seal doors and windows, and remain indoors until instructed by authorities. Preplan for shelter-in-place by packing supplies into kits and predesignating an above ground room with the fewest doors and windows to remain during the emergency.

Shelter-In-Place Supply Checklist

  • Bottled Water
  • Can Opener
  • Clear Plastic or Plastic Trash Bags
  • Dentures
  • Duct Tape
  • Extra Batteries
  • Eyeglasses or Contact Lens Care
  • Flashlight
  • Non-perishable Food
  • Prescription Medicine
  • Radio or Television
  • Telephone or Cellular Telephone
  • Towels

Shelter-In-Place Instructions

  • Quickly enter your house or shelter and bring pets inside.
  • Close doors, windows, and fire dampers.
  • Turn off any ventilation systems (any system bringing air in from outside).
  • Place wet, clean towels under doors.
  • Using the clear plastic (or plastic trash bags) and duct tape, place plastic cover over windows, bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans, stove and dryer vents and tape edges.
  • Gather family (people) in predesignated above ground room with supplies and remain until authorities indicate conditions are safe.
  • Minimize telephone use to allow for important incoming calls.
  • Listen to 105.5 FM radio for instructions and information updates.
  • Do not eat or drink food or water that may have been exposed to contaminant.
  • If a person becomes exposed to hazardous chemicals, contact local authorities and dial 911.