The Shelter-in-Place program is to help you prepare for the possibility of a plume of toxic gas from an industrial accident, terrorism, or other hazardous source descending on your home. You would not have much time to prepare, but there are things you can do beforehand to "be ready" and keep yourself and your family safe.


Protective Action: Shelter-in-place and Seal the room.

  • Learn and teach others what to do in the event of a hazardous material release.
  • Choose a shelter-in-place room in your home.
  • Gather and prepare supplies to make a shelter-in-place room.
  • Practice shelter-in-place with your family.
  • Update plans and supplies as needed after each practice.

Plastic sheeting covering windows, doors, and ventsHazardous chemical and biological incidents are unfortunately a very real possibility within our modern society. In the event of an airborne biological or chemical hazard, if you are unable to evacuate, you can shelter-in-place (SIP) with your family until the hazard blows through, usually in a matter of hours.

Prepare in Advance

Prepare beforehand and practice shelter in place procedures. You may not have time in a real emergency to learn by trial and error.

Select a SIP Room

  • An upstairs, interior room is preferable since many chemical hazards are heavier than air
  • Choose a single room large enough to hold air for all members of your family, including pets

Get a SIP Kit

  • 4 mil or thicker, clear plastic sheeting – Precut and labeled to cover doors, windows, vents, and light fixtures
  • 2 rolls medium grade or better duct tape – To tape sheeting in place and cover all electrical outlets, fixtures, and other areas where air can seep in
  • Battery operated AM/FM radio
  • Bottled water, ready-to-eat food, and blankets to last a few hours
  • Mobile phone
  • Flashlight – DO NOT use candles or open flames
  • Porta-Potty – If you chose a restroom as your SIP, don’t flush the regular toilet as it displaces valuable air
  • Personal medications – Any medical items that are essential to survive for a few hours
  • Books, games, or other diversions
  • Step stool or ladder as necessary – To reach ceiling fan, vents, or other out of reach places

When the Emergency Happens:

  1. Go inside
  2. Close and lock doors and windows
  3. Turn off HVAC systems
  4. Take family and SIP kit into the preselected SIP room
  5. Seal doors, windows, vents, and other openings with precut and labeled plastic sheeting and duct tape
  6. Turn on the AM/FM radio and listen for further instructions
  7. Leave your SIP room when instructed
    Typical duration is hours, not days!
  8. Ventilate your house

Remember access and functional needs family members and neighbors in your shelter-in-place plans.

If you are caught in or near a contaminated area, you should:

  • Move away immediately in a direction upwind of the source.
  • Find shelter as quickly as possible.

If you are contaminated by a chemical agent, decontamination guidelines are as follows:

  • Use extreme caution when helping others who have been exposed to chemical agents.
  • Remove all clothing and other items in contact with the body. Contaminated clothing normally removed over the head should be cut off to avoid contact with the eyes, nose, and mouth. Put contaminated clothing and items into a plastic bag and seal it. Decontaminate hands using soap and water. Remove eyeglasses or contact lenses. Put glasses in a pan of household bleach to decontaminate them, and then rinse and dry.
  • Flush eyes with water.
  • Gently wash face and hair with soap and water before thoroughly rinsing with water. Do not use conditioner.
  • Decontaminate other body areas likely to have been contaminated. Blot (do not swab or scrape) with a cloth soaked in soapy water and rinse with clear water.
  • Change into uncontaminated clothes. Clothing stored in drawers or closets is less likely to be contaminated.
  • Proceed to a medical facility for screening and professional treatment.