Airborne Emergency

In the event of an airborne emergency, health officials may instruct residents to shelter-in-place and "seal-the-room". Shelter-in-place means to stay inside your home or to seek safe cover inside the nearest building when a disaster strikes. Seal-the-room means to create a barrier between you and potentially contaminated air outside. It is a type of sheltering in place that requires preplanning and is the best way for residents to stay secure during an airborne radiological or chemical event.

A home or business will provide the best protection during an airborne emergency so long as the room has already been established as a shelter and equipped with an emergency supply kit. The proper application of plastic sheeting, tape, and towels should be sufficient to protect yourself from the outside environment.

What to do:

  • Bring your family and pets inside.
  • Lock doors and close any windows, air vents, and fireplace dampers.
  • Turn off fans, air conditioning, and forced-air heating systems.
  • Keep an emergency supply kit at hand unless you have reason to believe it has been contaminated.
  • Seal all windows, doors, and air vents with 2 to 4 millimeters 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.
  • Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.
  • Once health officials declare the emergency as "all clear", every room should be thoroughly aired out to remove any lingering fumes.

Seal the Room Supplies:

  • Plastic sheeting for windows (2 to 4 millimeters thick)
  • Duct tape and scissors
  • Towels/rags for vents and under doors
  • Battery-operated radio and extra batteries
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Drinking water in jugs
  • Snacks