Shelter in Place

One of the instructions you may be given in a cyclone or an emergency is to 'shelter in place'. This occurs sometimes during cyclones or when hazardous materials may have been released into the atmosphere.

This is a precaution aimed to keep you safe while remaining indoors. This does not mean to go out to another shelter.

'Shelter in place' means selecting a small, interior room, with no or few windows, and taking refuge there. It does not mean sealing off your entire home or office building. If you are told to 'shelter in place', follow these instructions:

At home

  • Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.
  • If you are told there is danger of explosion, close the window shades, blinds, or curtains.
  • Turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems.
  • Close the fireplace damper.
  • Get your family disaster emergency kit and make sure the radio is working.
  • Go to an above ground interior room without windows.In the case of a chemical threat, an above-ground location is preferable. Some chemicals are heavier than air, and may seep into basements even if the windows are closed.
  • Bring your pets with you, and be sure to bring additional food and water supplies for them.
  • It is ideal to have a hard-wired telephone in the room you select. Call your emergency contact and have the phone available if you need to report a life-threatening condition. Mobile telephone equipment may be overwhelmed or damaged during an emergency.
  • Seal all cracks around the door and any vents into the room. Use duct tape and plastic sheeting as it is heavier then food wrap.
  • Keep listening to your radio or television until you are told all is safe or you are told to evacuate. Local officials may call for evacuation in specific areas at greatest risk in your community.

In your vehicle

  • If you are very close to home, your office, or a public building, go there immediately and go inside. Follow the 'shelter in place' recommendations for the place you pick described above.
  • If you are unable to get to a home or to a building quickly and safely, then pull over to the side of the road. Stop your vehicle in the safest place possible.
  • If it is sunny outside, it is preferable to stop under a bridge or in a shady spot, to avoid being overheated.
  • Turn off the engine. Close windows and vents.
  • If possible, seal the heating/air conditioning vents with duct tape.
  • Listen to the radio regularly for updated advice and instructions.
  • Stay where you are until you are told it is safe to get back on the road. Be aware that some roads may be closed or traffic detoured. Follow the directions of police.

Remember that instructions to 'shelter in place' are usually provided for durations of a few hours, not days or weeks. There is little danger that the room in which you are taking shelter will run out of oxygen and you will suffocate.

Note: Do not run a petrol generator in the room in which you are sheltering as people have died in these circumstances from the fumes.