Today we are faced with the reality that biological and chemical attacks are viable threats of terrorism. We also live in a world where man-made disasters such as chemical spills can occur.
Many places throughout the world find these hazards most probable in densely populated areas (another reason to get out of the cities). Because of this, a disaster or attack of this magnitude would leave officials with no other choice but to recommend evacuation. And with millions of people and a handful of roads you’re now looking at gridlock.
So instead of clamoring to your car, getting stuck on the freeway and being openly exposed to a chemical threat you must evaluate your other option – in-place sheltering.
Obviously, evacuation is still the optimal solution, but in-place sheltering is a good alternative if evacuation seems unlikely. This is a relatively simple procedure that can keep you safe until the coast is clear.
Choosing Your Shelter-In-Place Location
When designating the room in your house that you would like to use as an emergency shelter-in-place, look for the following characteristics:
- Few windows
- Few doors
- Few Vents
- Water Supply (optimal but not necessary)
The room size should be big enough to supply each person with enough oxygen for a minimum of 1 hour. To test this, have everyone in your family gather in your chosen room and stretch out their arms. If everyone can turn in a circle with their outstretched arms and not touch anyone else, you’re good to go.
What You’ll Need
- 4mm Plastic Sheeting – enough to seal and contain room
- Multiple Rolls of Duct Tape
- Wet Bath Towel
- Battery Powered Radio
- Battery Powered Flashlight
- 96 Hour Kit
- 1 Month Supply of Food, Water and Medication (I’d rather tell you to have a month’s worth when you really only needed a week, than tell you to have a week’s worth when you really needed a month)
After the sirens have blared or you have received official information instructing the community to either evacuate or find shelter-in-place go through the following steps to secure you and your family:
Step One: Get Everyone Inside
Everyone that is close by needs to get inside. This includes pets. Don’t drive to the school to pick up your kids unless you’ve been instructed to do so. Many schools have their own shelter-in-place procedures to keep your kids safe until the coast is clear.
Step Two: Seal Off
Turn off the heating, air conditioning, fans and any other ventilation systems. Go into your shelter-in-place room and close all doors and windows. To seal-off your room until the outside air is safe:
- Wet your bath towels completely and jam in the open space under your doors.
- Use the heavy-duty plastic sheeting and duct tape to seal off any remaining cracks around the doors and windows.
- Cover heating vents, electrical outlets and open gaps in your baseboards.
Step Three: Listen
Whether you’re using a television or radio to receive official updates, keep them on so you are tuned in to what’s happening and when the coast has been cleared. Do not leave your shelter-in-place until one of two things happen 1) It’s been an hour and you’ve depleted your air supply or 2) You have been officially cleared to leave.
Once, you’ve received word that it is safe to go outside open the doors and turn back on your air ventilation system.
If you want to go outside it’s recommended to go in your backyard or other secluded areas where you don’t risk coming in contact with someone that has been contaminated.
Stay quarantined and away from others until you hear official news that there is no risk of being contaminated by others. This means no trips to the grocery store or pharmacy so this is where you will be living off of your food and water storage.
Make sure to maintain meticulous hygiene and shower frequently to lower your risk of contamination if you have been unknowingly exposed.
All in all, shelter-in-place is easy to prepare for and a good safety-net preparation if you are unable to evacuate. So make your shelter-in-place preparations and practice frequently so your family knows exactly what to do when the situation arises.