10 Steps for Safe Sheltering in Place

Feb. 25, 2014
Make the most of your five minutes.
  1. Close the business.
  2. Find any customers, clients, or other visitors and ask them to stay. A command to shelter in place means everyone – do not drive or walk outdoors.
  3. Ask everyone (employees and visitors alike) to call their personal emergency contacts and let them know where they are and that they are safe.
  4. Turn on call forwarding or other phone answering systems. Change voicemail recordings to say that your business is closed and that staff and visitors are remaining in the building until authorities say it is safe to leave.
  5. Lock outside doors and close all windows, air vents, and fireplace dampers.
  6. Facilities personnel or others who are familiar with mechanical systems should turn off all fans, HVAC, and dryers (if applicable). Turn off, seal, and/or disable air exchange systems.
  7. If you are advised that an explosion is possible, close all window shades, blinds, or curtains.
  8. Gather disaster supplies (see “Key Sheltering Supplies” on page 38) and head to your pre-designated sheltering area. If instructed by officials, seal all windows, doors, and vents with duct tape and plastic sheeting, garbage bags, or any other supplies on hand.
  9. Write down the names of everyone in the room and their affiliation with your business (employee, customer, etc.). Call your organization’s designated emergency contact to report this information so everyone can be accounted for. If you need to seek shelter in multiple rooms, appoint one person per room to gather this information.
  10. Monitor radio, TV, or internet for further instructions until you are told it’s safe to come out or until you are evacuated. Open windows and doors, turn on the HVAC systems, and go outside when officials tell you the area is safe following a hazardous material release – this will allow any contaminants that entered your building to air out. Follow any special instructions from authorities to avoid outdoor contaminants.

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