During an emergency, one of the instructions you may be given is to shelter-in-place. This is a precaution aimed to keep you safe while remaining indoors until an incident has been declared “all clear” and it is safe to resume normal operations. Shelter-in-place means selecting a small, interior room, with no or few windows, and taking refuge there until you receive confirmation that the situation is under control and you are no longer required to shelter-in-place.
The USP community may be instructed to shelter-in-place due to an accidental release of chemical, biological, or radiological contaminants, the intentional release of chemical, biological, or radiological contaminants due to a terrorist incident, a natural disaster, or for personal protection because of a criminal incident.
Normally evacuation is the most common protective action taken when an airborne hazard, such as smoke or noxious odor, is found in a building. In most cases, existing plans for a general evacuation are applicable for evacuation in response to these types of incidents.
However, a general evacuation may not be the best course of action for an external hazardous materials incident, particularly one that is widespread such as a tanker car chemical explosion. Since a general evacuation will most likely expose individuals to the hazardous conditions, and a rapid evacuation may not be possible individuals are encouraged to shelter-in-place.
You can achieve a greater level of protection by sheltering-in-place rather than risking direct exposure to the hazardous conditions, a higher level of protection can be gained by taking shallow breaths and covering your nose and mouth with a damp cloth.
Follow the instructions provided through the Emergency Notification System and if possible, and it is safe to do so, use a computer to find out more information or turn on a TV or radio.
Most importantly remain calm.