MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Most Mid-southerners know what to do in the event of severe weather. Preparedness plans are always good to have in place for natural disasters. However, some disasters can be overlooked, leaving many unprepared for life-threatening situations.
“Shelter In Place” is an alert rarely issued to residents. It is only issued when the air in a specific location has been contaminated by hazardous chemicals. A “Shelter In Place” emergency simply means for residents to stay inside their homes and to not go outside. It is different than sheltering during severe weather. During this type of emergency, residents are urged to block contaminated air from entering the home.
The air can become contaminated during a variety of unpredictable events. Chemical contaminants being transported on trucks can be released if involved in an accident. A train carrying hazardous materials could derail threatening nearby homes and businesses. Explosions at chemical plants, radiological contaminants or biological terrorism can also lead to contaminated air.
If an alert is issued, residents should immediately lock windows and doors, turn off the ventilation system, cover windows with plastic and tape, turn off ceiling fans, and seal off fireplaces. Take shelter in an interior room of the house. A radio should be kept nearby to be alerted when the emergency is over. You should take shelter in a room at least 10 square feet in size which can allow for carbon dioxide buildup up to 5 hours.
Motorists should use the same guideline if an alert is issued while driving. Roll up windows, turn the air conditioning off, and shut off your vehicle. Parents are discouraged from trying to pick up children from school during a “Shelter In Place” emergency.
Kasia Smith-Alexander, Shelby County Emergency Response Coordinator, says, “All schools plan for all hazards. If they have to "Shelter In Place", they are prepared to house the children at the school.”
Following the emergency, you may open doors and windows to circulate the air indoors.