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 Shelter in Place

If you are advised by local officials to “shelter in place,” they mean for you to remain inside your home, workplace or school and protect yourself there. This would most likely happen in case of tornado, flood conditions, chemical or radiation accident or attack. Depending on the reason for sheltering:

  • Go inside your home or the nearest building.
  • Close all windows and doors, and turn off all ventilation systems.
  • Get your Emergency Supplies Kit, and make sure your radio works.
  • In case of a tornado, take refuge below ground, if possible.
  • In the case of a chemical or radiation threat, if possible, take shelter in an interior room without windows that is above ground level. An above ground location is preferable because some chemicals are heavier than air, and may seep into basements even if the windows are closed. Using duct tape, plastic sheeting or damp towels, seal all cracks around the door, any windows and any vents into the room.
  • Don’t use the phone, except for emergency messages.
  • Turn on your radio or television to an emergency alert station. Keep listening until you are told all is safe or you are told to evacuate. Local officials may call for evacuation in specific areas that are at greatest risk in your community.

At Home in an Emergency

During an emergency, you might be cut off from food, water and electricity for several days or more. If power is out, food stores may be closed and your water supply may not work. Here are some suggestions to follow:

Water: If a disaster catches you without a supply of clean water, you can use ice cubes and the water in your hot-water tank or pipes. You can also use clean water from the reservoir (back) tank of your toilet (not the bowl). If it is safe to go outside, you can also purify water from streams or rivers, rainwater, ponds and lakes, natural springs and snow by boiling (for 5 minutes), distilling or disinfection. To purify water with bleach, use 10 drops of bleach per gallon of water. Use only regular household liquid bleach containing only 5.25% sodium hypochlorite.

Food: During and right after an emergency, it will be important to keep up your strength by eating at least one well-balanced meal each day. Take vitamin, mineral and/or protein supplements.

If the electricity goes off: First, check to see if your neighbors have power. The problem may be in your home. If they also have lost power, check with the power company to see when power might come back on. Turn off or unplug all major appliances. When appliances, such as refrigerators are left on, they could overload electric lines when power is turned back on, causing a second outage. Use the phone only when absolutely necessary. If the only problem is downed lines, your cell phone or car phone will work.

Frozen plumbing: Plumbing can freeze when power is lost during cold weather periods. You can turn off the water supply at the main intake pipe, drain your system and leave a faucet open to avoid air lock. Be ready to go to a shelter if warmth and protection are needed during a long power outage.

Medical: If you or anyone you know come in contact with a biological or chemical agent, a special cleansing procedure and medical attention may be needed. Listen to the advice broadcast on Emergency Alert Stations. During a disaster, emergency services may be overwhelmed, so only call 911 about life-threatening emergencies.

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