Shelter in Place Procedures – What it Means to “Shelter in Place”
If an incident occurs and the buildings or areas around you become unstable, or if the air outdoors becomes dangerous due to toxic or irritating substances, it is usually safer to stay indoors, because leaving the area may expose you to that danger. Thus, to “shelter-in-place” means to make a shelter of the building that you are in, and with a few adjustments this location can be made even safer and more comfortable until it is safe to go outside.
Basic “Shelter-in-Place” Guidance
If an incident occurs and the building you are in is not damaged, stay inside in an interior room until you are told it is safe to come out. If your building is damaged, take your personal belongings (purse, wallet, etc.) and follow the evacuation procedures for your building (close your door, proceed to the nearest exit, and use the stairs instead of the elevators). Once you have evacuated, seek shelter at the nearest College building quickly. If police or fire department personnel are on the scene, follow their directions.
How You Will Know to “Shelter-in-Place”
A shelter-in-place notification may come from several sources, including Campus Safety, Residence Life members, other College employees, Local Police Department or New York City PD, or other authorities utilizing the College emergency communications tools.
How to “Shelter-in-Place”
No matter where you are, the basic steps of shelter-in-place will generally remain the same. Should the need ever arise; follow these steps, unless instructed otherwise by local emergency personnel:
- If you are inside, stay where you are. Collect any emergency shelter-in-place supplies and a telephone to be used in case of emergency. If you are outdoors, proceed into the closest building quickly or follow instructions from emergency personnel on the scene.
- Go to an interior room that’s above ground level and has no windows. In the case of a chemical threat, an aboveground location is preferable because some chemicals are heavier than air and may seep into basements even if the windows are closed.
- Seal all gaps around the door, around windows, and any vents into the room.
- Keep listening to your radio or television until you are given an “all clear” or told to evacuate.
- If you must go out or find that harmful vapors enter your shelter, covering your mouth with a damp cloth may provide minimal breathing protection