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Potential Chemical Releases: Would You Be Prepared?


by Paula Cain, Emergency Management


You may be directed to Shelter-In-Place if a chemical release occurs in your community. Sheltering in place involves staying where you are and blocking outdoor air from entering you home or office. Because chemicals often disperse rapidly, it is often safer than trying to evacuate. Some chemicals are heavier than air and will collect in the lowest areas; therefore you are not advised to shelter in a basement or underground shelter during a chemical release.

When you are directed to Shelter-In-Place, follow these steps:

  • Go inside immediately; bring pets indoors with you.
  • Close and lock all doors and windows. Make sure they are closed tightly.
  • Shut off all fan devices, ventilation systems, and any system that circulates air.
  • Close the damper to your wood stove or fireplace if it’s not in use.
  • Go to the room you have selected to Shelter-In-Place. If possible, this should be a small room with few or no windows, and doors only from the center of the house or building.
  • Seal this room off quickly, using duct tape and plastic sheeting to close off ventilation systems, air or fan vents, doors, windows, and other outlets. Use wet towels to seal the bottoms of all doors. If necessary, use wet washcloths to cover your nose and mouth.
  • Monitor your radio or TV for Emergency Alert System messages and further
  • Do not make unnecessary phone calls. Tying up telephone lines prevents emergency crews from using them. If you have an elderly neighbor or know someone who may need assistance, quickly make that call. Using text messages is a more effective way to communicate during emergencies.
  • Stay inside in your selected area until you receive the “all clear” signal. This will be announced on radio and TV.
  • After “all clear” announcement, open all windows, doors, and go outside until building has been well aired.

Contact: Paula Cain, Emergency Management Director, 767-0380