Shelter in place
Shelter in place (SAME code: SPW) is an emergency procedure for people affected by a chemical accident or chemical attack. It entails taking immediate shelter in a readily accessible location, such as a small room, and sealing it from outside contaminants and shutting off all HVAC systems. Depending on the exact situation, everyone within a specific distance of the incident may be ordered to shelter in place or people within a closer range may be ordered to evacuate while everyone else shelters in place. Sheltering in place is generally only used for a short period of time, typically a few hours. Diagrams of what sheltering in place entails following a Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threat, and how long it is advised to be done for, is provided by the FEMA affiliated website ready.gov.
The phrase has increasingly been used by police to describe precautions to be taken by the public when violence has occurred or might occur (particularly in shootings) in the area and the perpetrator is believed to still be in the area but not apprehended. The public in the area is urged to stay indoors and "close, lock and stay away from external doors and windows."
Public authorities may call for potential victims in a hazardous situation to shelter in place, particularly in the event of a release of hazardous materials such as radiological, biological, or chemical contaminants. Such releases, whether accidental or intentional, may put surrounding populations in danger and authorities may call for residents to shelter in place. Chemical agents that might trigger such a response could include solids, liquids, or gases that could cause serious injury or death to people, animals, or plants. In light of active shooter events, and the panic that can ensue, shelter in place is also being implemented as a response to armed events.
Shelter in place is intended as a short-term strategy for dealing with disaster. As such, recommendations from the American Red Cross and other disaster management agencies are for individuals to be prepared to shelter for a matter of hours in a safe place should such a strategy be implemented. The Red Cross suggests a number of steps to prepare for a shelter in place. They encourage those preparing to develop and be familiar with emergency procedures and shelter in place plans both at home and at their place of work or school. These plans should include the selection of a room with access to a water supply and few or no windows, and creation of an emergency kit that includes food and water. The room chosen should have a minimum of 10 square feet (0.93 m2) of floor space per person to allow people to stay inside for at least five hours when sealed without dangerous buildup of carbon dioxide. A radio, flashlight, duct tape, and first aid supply should also be included.
Residents of an affected community might be informed that shelter in place is being implemented through the news media, Emergency Alert System, Reverse 911, warning sirens or horns, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather reports, and announcements from vehicles equipped with public address systems. In the United States, facilities like nuclear power plants are required to be equipped with audio alert systems that can be heard within a 10-mile (16 km) radius.
Once a shelter in place is called, residents are expected to immediately go indoors, bring all children and animals with them, and to close and lock windows and doors. All ways in which outside materials may enter the shelter area should be eliminated, including closure of fireplace dampers, shutting off ventilation or climate control systems, and prepare an area for pets to eliminate waste that does not require allowing them outside. If told to do so via television or radio, those sheltering should seal their rooms with duct tape and plastic. Upon reaching shelter, those who were outside for a period of time seeking shelter after the shelter in place was called and who may have been exposed to chemical contaminants should remove all outer clothing, put it in a plastic bag, and wash with warm water. After an announcement that the shelter in place is over, residents should go outside and open all doors and windows to ventilate the shelter. Similar processes should be followed in cars, workplaces, or schools.
- On February 28, 1997, The Los Angeles Police Department issued a shelter in place for North Hollywood, California due to the North Hollywood shootout
- In March, 2003, three Israeli residents of Kafr Qassem, a mother and her two sons, died in their sleep after sealing the room in which they were sleeping against potential chemical or biological attack. They had lit a charcoal fire to keep warm. The father and another child survived.
- In October, 2009, authorities called a shelter in place in Contra Costa County, California after a teenager committed suicide by mixing chemicals together. Three nearby residents who were affected by the fumes were treated at a hospital, and the shelter in place order was lifted after three hours.
- On May 9, 2010, a shelter in place warning was issued in San Francisco, California after a gas leak.
- On July 11, 2011, a shelter in place warning was issued in Clarksville, Tennessee after a major gas leak from a pipeline and a gas station nearby. No one in the area was killed or hurt.
- On August 6, 2012, a shelter in place warning was issued in Richmond, California, due to a refinery fire at the Chevron Richmond Refinery.
- On August 7, 2012, a shelter in place warning was falsely issued for Contra Costa County, California due to an emergency at a Shell oil refinery, which never occurred.
- On October 29, 2012, a shelter in place warning was issued in Louisville, Kentucky after a train carrying hazardous chemicals was derailed near Dixie Highway and Katherine Station.
- On April 19, 2013, a shelter in place warning was issued for Boston, Massachusetts and surrounding suburbs during a manhunt for one of the suspected Boston Marathon bombers. The manhunt began after a shootout between police and the two suspects took place in Watertown, Massachusetts.
Weeks after the Boston bombing shelter in place incident, local authorities in the City of Morro Bay, CA issued a shelter in place because a black bear was in the area. This information was broadcast on the local radio station KVEC the following morning.
- On September 16, 2013 a shelter in place warning was issued in Washington DC around the Navy Yard after a shooting in Naval Sea Systems Command HQ resulted in 13 deaths.
- On October 2, 2013 a shelter in place was issued for Charleston, West Virginia because of a chemical leak at the Clearon site in nearby South Charleston.
Example of a shelter in place warning
URGENT - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED SHELTER IN PLACE WARNING CONTRA COSTA HEALTH SERVICES RELAYED BY NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA 738 PM PDT MON AUG 6 2012 SHELTER IN PLACE THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE IS TRANSMITTED AT THE REQUEST OF THE CONTRA COSTA HEALTH SERVICES. THIS IS A MESSAGE FROM CONTRA COSTA HEALTH SERVICES. THERE IS AN EMERGENCY AT CHEVRON REFINERY. RESIDENTS IN RICHMOND. NORTH RICHMOND AND SAN PABLO. ARE ADVISED TO SHELTER IN PLACE. GO INSIDE. CLOSE ALL WINDOWS AND DOORS. TURN OFF ALL HEATERS. AIR CONDITIONERS AND FANS. IF NOT USING THE FIREPLACE. CLOSE FIREPLACE DAMPERS AND VENTS. AND COVER CRACKS AROUND DOORS AND WINDOWS WITH TAPE OR DAMPED TOWELS. MEDIA NEWS NETWORKS WILL CONTINUE TO CARRY UPDATED EMERGENCY INFORMATION. STAY OFF THE TELEPHONE UNLESS YOU HAVE A LIFE THREATENING EMERGENCY. $$
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2006-02-23). "Shelter-in-Place During a Chemical or Radiation Emergency". American Red Cross. Retrieved 2009-11-03.
- "Shelter in place". National Terror Alert Response Center. Retrieved 2009-11-03.
- "Shelter in place" (PDF). Washington State Department of Health. Retrieved 2009-11-03.
- "Israelis suffocate in war-proof room". ABC News Online. 2003-03-18. Retrieved 2009-11-03.
- Sakamoto, Kimberlee (2009-10-02). "Teen's Suspected Suicide Prompted Shelter-in-Place, Sent Three to the Hospital". KRON 4. Retrieved 2009-11-03.
- Kristin J. Bender and Daniel M. Jimenez, "Massive fire at Chevron refinery in Richmond fully contained; shelter in place lifted", Contra Costa Times (August 6, 2012).
- Bender, Kristin J.; Jimenez, Daniel M. (August 6, 2012). "Massive fire at Chevron refinery in Richmond fully contained; shelter in place lifted". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- "Shelter in Place Warning". National Weather Service. Retrieved 2012-08-06.