What is Shelter-in-Place?

Shelter-In-Place is the practice of going or remaining indoors during a sudden outdoor release of a hazardous substance. It has been demonstrated to be the most effective response during the first few hours of a substance release. Sheltering indoors creates a buffer between you and any toxic hazard that may be in the outside air.

The goal of Shelter-In-Place is to reduce the movement of air into and out of the building until the hazard has passed. It is based on using a building that is constructed tightly enough to withstand typical Canadian winter weather conditions.

An event such as a fire, motor vehicle crash, train derailment, industrial incident, or a natural disaster may cause a substance release. As a result, emergency responders may request that you Shelter-In-Place.

When asked to take shelter, you need to take the following steps:

  1. Immediately gather everyone indoors and stay there.
  2. Close and lock all windows and outside doors. If convenient, tape the gaps around the door frames.
  3. Extinguish indoor wood burning fires. If possible, close flue dampers.
  4. Turn off appliances or equipment that either blow out inside air or suck in outside air such as:
    Bathroom and kitchen fan
    Built-in vacuum systems
    Gas stoves
    Clothes dryers
    Air conditioners
  5. Turn down thermostats by about five degrees Celsius to minimize the on-time of furnaces.
  6. Leave open all inside doors.
  7. Avoid using the telephone, except for emergencies, so that you can be contacted by emergency response personnel.
  8. Stay tuned to local radio, television for possible information updates.
  9. Even if you see people outside, do not leave until told to do so.
  10. After the hazardous substance has passed you will receive an "all-clear" message. You may receive instructions to ventilate your building by opening all windows and doors; turning on fans and turning up thermostats. Once the building is completely ventilated, return all equipment to normal.