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Shelter-in-Place (SIP)


For use during a hazardous materials release or conditions are not safe whether you are at home, work or anywhere else you frequent regularly, there may be situations when it's best to stay where you are and avoid any uncertainty outside. 

Note:  Shelter in Place should not be used during an active aggressor situation.   The correct form of protection to use during an active aggressor situation is called a LOCKDOWN.

Here are some indicators and steps to take if the situation arises:

  • Use common sense and available information to assess the situation and determine if there is immediate danger.

  • If you see large amounts of debris in the air, or if local authorities say the air is badly contaminated, you may want to take this kind of action.

The direction to Shelter-In-Place is issued by the Incident Commander on-scene.  The degree can range based on the situation.  For most gas leaks, simply closing windows, doors, and shutting down outside ignition sources (running motors, HVAC, et cetera) will provide adequate protection.  When dealing with certain agricultural or industrial chemicals, you may be directed to take additional actions (see below).

Here are some tips for sheltering in place:

  • Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do.

  • IMMEDIATELY bring your family and pets inside.

  • Lock doors, close windows, air vents and fireplace dampers.

  • Turn off fans, air conditioning and forced air heating systems.

  • Take your emergency supply kit unless you have reason to believe it has been contaminated.

  • Go into an interior room with few windows if possible.

  • Seal all windows, doors and air vents with thick plastic sheeting and duct tape. Consider measuring and cutting the sheeting in advance to save time.

  • Cut the plastic sheeting several inches wider than the openings and label each sheet.

  • Duct tape plastic at corners first and then tape down all edges.

  • Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to seal gaps so that you create a barrier between yourself and any contamination.

  • Watch TV and listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.


“Sealing a room” is considered a temporary protective measure to create a barrier between you and potentially contaminated air outside. This type of sheltering in place requires pre-planning by purchasing plastic sheeting and duct tape that you would keep in your emergency supply kit.

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