How to shelter in place

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Sheltering in place
How to shelter in place

Sheltering in place, bugging in and staying put!
Are you ready to stay put in an emergency? "Sheltering in place"
means to stay where you are, to seek refuge in a building,
instead of evacuating during an emergency, such as a chemical,
biological or radiological catastrophe. It's a measure to stay put
for safety's sake. Sheltering in place is what preppers refer to as
"bugging in." You can stay put at your home or office. You can
also stay put in your car if you have a plan to shelter in place.

While the effects of sheltering in place are to mitigate a disaster
situation, preppers take the concept of bugging in at a much
higher level. Below is how to shelter in place, even if you don't
have an underground bunker...

How to "Shelter in Place"
Disasters happen no matter where you are. They cause disruption
of food, energy and water supplies, and may limit availability of
lifesaving medicines and support. Hospitals may become overrun
and government may cease to function. Be prepared to shelter in
place at home because there may be no help on the way.

Here's how to shelter in place at home:

There are many reasons to have a plan to shelter in place:

#1: Assess the situation.
The first thing to do in sheltering in place is a quick "situational
analysis." This just means to be alert about the dangers which
are causing you to shelter in place. Stop and think! Assessing is
establishing a baseline and identifying the dangers ~ and this bit
of knowledge is essential to help you know when the danger has
passed and it's safe to go outside again.

  • Is the scene safe? Make sure the immediate area is safe:
    it's one of the basic ideas behind CPR. You can't help others
    or yourself until you know that it's safe for you to do so;
    otherwise you're just the next victim. Making a decision to
    act is difficult, but your personal safety comes first. Look for
    hazards, such as electrical wires or flooding to see the
    immediate dangers. In an active shooter scenario you need
    to take cover immediately, but you also must assess
    whether it's one active shooter or if others are involved. You
    might be able to tell based on the shots fired, casualties or
    reports from others.

  • What just happened? After an earthquake, for example, you
    may want to get out of the building, but the perils on the
    street include debris from shard metal or broken glass that
    could cause injury. Other dangers include downed power
    lines in liquid or ruptured gas lines that could explode. Your
    first order of business after assessing the situation would be
    to strap some shoes on your feet and grab a flashlight if
    necessary to assess the damage. Next, you'll want to head
    to the gas shut-off valve. This set of actions is vastly
    different from a nuclear blast, which may feel like an
    earthquake. Here your goal would be to stay inside and
    immediately shield yourself from fallout materials by donning
    a chemical suit, grabbing your gas mask and sealing all
    windows, doors and air vents with duct tape and plastic

  • Fight or flight? The fight or flight response is the gut
    reaction you have to stay or fight.It's a basic instinct for
    both man and animal: the instant a being realizes that
    danger is imminent, there is a "flight or fight" decision to
    make. It's an acute stress response. In the world of
    prepping, fighting is "bugging in" and fleeing is "bugging
    out." Depending on your risk assessment, your emergency
    action plan may include evacuating the building for example
    if it's a fire. You may opt to deal with a fire if  it's small
    enough and you have the training, to extinguish it yourself
    quickly. If you see debris in the air, you may want to shelter
    in place; however it may be more prudent to try to seek
    medical care. Your accurate assessment is critical.

  • Keep sleuthing. Are you injured and if so how badly? Is the
    building about to collapse? Does the power work? How about
    your phone? Should you shut off the power or phone? Are
    people rioting or looting? What supplies do you need? Is it
    safe to gather your pets? Will the water be safe to drink?
    Are marauders and gains forming? You get the idea.

  • Establish a clear chain of command. The person who has
    the most certifications should lead the group to safety. Since
    you're reading this, it's likely you! That's why it's so
    important that you assess the situation, have a plan to
    evacuate, know the escape routes and identify yourself to
    the authorities who may enter your sheltering place. Read up
    on OSHA's recommendations for sheltering in place.

#2: Keep the outside world "out."
Depending on the situation and your assessment of it, you'll take
varying actions to keep the outside world "out." This may include:

  • Active shooter: In an active shooter scenario your goal is to
    lock the door behind you and turn off your cell phone, close
    the blinds and then hide possibly under a table. If the door
    won't shut, you'll need to build a barricade during the lock-
    down. Thankfully most active shooter scenarios are over in
    ten to fifteen minutes and your shelter in place won't be

  • Chemical concerns.  It could be a derailed and leaking
    chlorine vehicle around the block or air quality from a
    massive chemical fire at the other end of town may cause
    concern to shelter in place. Black smoke billowing from a
    chemical fire or a chemical cloud from a broken valve can
    lead to unsafe levels of particulate matter and authorities
    may put in effect a shelter in place order. It could last an
    hour or several days. You'll want to shut doors and windows,
    turn off the fans, and grab your emergency radio.

  • Explosion. If the shelter-in-place warning comes because of
    danger of explosion, you'll want to quickly close the window
    shades, blinds or curtains and gather at the centermost room
    with the fewest windows or vents. This might include a large
    closet or utilty room, pantry.

  • Lockdown. Know that the official term "shelter in place"
    refers to what authorities ask of the public for such things as
    a chemical spill, industrial accident, a break in a natural gas
    line, or even a terrorist attack. This differs from a lock-down,
    which is a state of restricted access, where there may be
    police activity in an area and it's deemed unsafe to go
    outside. A lock-down is a security measure to help regain
    control after rioting or a manhunt, or to restrict access to
    allow an emergency response team critical access.

  • Closing the business. You may be in a situation at work
    where there are clients, prospects and visitors. In such a
    case, you'll to ask them to stay, not leave! Tape plastic
    sheeting over the vents to prevent contaminated air from
    coming inside the selected room. Bring your food and water
    supplies to the room where you will huddle.

#3: Ensure you have a supply of shelf-stable food.
You can't very well shelter in place for days on end if you don't
have enough food to do it. If you have not enough food, then
you'll need a
plan to ration your food. That's why one of the most
basic ways to prepare for emergencies is to have food ready to
eat that does not require cooking.

Choose a variety of foods that have a long shelf life. Good
examples of
Shelf-stable food from the grocery that don't require
cooking include:
  • packaged applesauce
  • beef jerky
  • crackers with peanut butter or nut butter
  • food bars and ration bars
  • Dried fruits: banana chips, raisins and dried cranberries and
    dried apricots or mangos.
  • Canned foods. It may not be palatable, but eating canned
    food without heating it is safe ~ the only exception is
    canned tomatoes, which may have anaerobic bacteria. Using
    a can opener for your every meal will quickly wear down the
    can opener you have. Get yourself a good manual can opener
    and have a few can openers with your food storage.

#4: Take an Inventory of Water.
Most of us don't have water wells in our homes. Having an
adequate supply of water will help ensure your family's survival.
You can only last three days without water, so your shelter-in-
place plan needs to have an adequate supply.

How much water to set aside for emergencies?
The simple answer you'll find on the Internet is to set aside a
gallon of water a day, per person. This estimate comes from That can quickly add up! It means that a family of
four would need 56 gallons of water for just two weeks. That's a
lot of bottles of water to store and you may not realize that
those jugs of water you get at the store really only have a six-
month shelf life. It's much better to get a
55-gallon water barrel.

Want to step up your water storage plans?
A family of four needs 270 gallons of water to survive three
months, according to Utah State University. It may seem like an
impossible task to stockpile so much water, but that's on the high
end of your plans to shelter in place.

If you're not a prepper or if you're new to prepping, then set some
initial goals. For example, start your plans to have two weeks of
water set aside.

#5: Ensure you have respirators.
You'll breathe easier knowing you've stored enough respirators for
everyone. When planning to shelter-in-place, your emergency plan
should include a variety of respirators as respiratory protection is
only effective if they're used properly. Know how to use the
respirator well in advance of the emergency.

  • NT95/N100 respirator. A simple N-95 or N-100 respirator is
    easy enough to use, but be sure to pinch respirator at the
    bridge of the nose to ensure it forms to the face propertly.
    It's muhc more complicated to use a gas mask. hese
    respirators only protect against particles. They do not protect
    against chemicals, gases, or vapors

  • Escape respirators. A fire mask is an escape respirator that
    protects you from harmful particulates in the air that can
    cause asthma and breathing problems. The FIREMASK is
    respiratory protective device for protection against smoke,
    Carbon Monoxide, Hydrogen Sulfide, Ammonia, toxic gases,
    fire, and radiant heat. It has a limited use ~ you get about a
    half an hour of breathable air when you need it most
    critically. Best of all, it doesn't require any maintenance or

  • Gas masks. Remember, gas masks are effective only if you
    use them with the correct cartridge or filter. The best gas
    mask you can get is a CBRN, which covers

  1. Nuclear: Nuclear fission or fusion from accident or attack.
    protection from particles of radioactive fallout
  2. Biological: Viruses, bacteria, fungi or other micro organisms,
    such as anthrax (bacterial agent); Ebola;  Avian flu and other
    pandemics; also volcanic ash. Unfortunately, there is no way
    to give advance notice of a biological attack.
  3. Chemical: Toxic chemicals such as mustard gas, Sarin gas,  
    tear gas (riot control), blister gas, blood gas, or choking gas
    (nerve agent), etc.

A CBRN gas mask, covers Chemical, Biological and Radiological
threats and adds a level of fire resistance!

#6: Medical supplies.
Have first aid kit handy in advance of the emergency in the
central area where you will be huddling as you shelter in place.
Things to include in your shelter in place medical supplies:

#7: Sanitation supplies.
If you're sheltering in place in a small storage space or other
location within the building, you may have the foresight to
include a small camping toilet as part of your supply set, such a  
prepper toilet is a simple bucket with a seat. Inside you can

FEMA's take on How to Shelter in Place
Be ready to shelter in place. When industrial accidents occur
public officials typically evacuate the public. In certain
circumstances it is preferable to shelter people in their
residences. In addition to staying indoors, people can increase
their protection from chemicals. The Department of Homeland
Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency shares tips for
how to shelter in place below...
Military Can opener
Sealed Foods to last a lifetime
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Prepper communications - try Midland products
When industrial accidents occur plan on sheltering in place. Staying indoors
can increase protection from chemicals.

Happy endings...
Sheltering in place means to stay where you are, to seek refuge in
a building, instead of evacuating during an emergency, typically
because of a chemical, biological, radiological catastrophe.  There
are technically two places where you should make a plan to shelter
in place and that includes your home and workplace. You can stash
some food and supplies at work to help allow you to stay there
should an emergency strike. This may be as simple as having a
home bag at work.

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