Unless the chemical is flammable, such as propane, emergency responders recommend that you go and stay indoors (shelter-in-place) until you are told to evacuate. If the hazardous material is already around the building you are in, evacuation may not be safe since you would have to move through the chemical to leave.

Shelter-in-place is a safe response to an airborne hazardous material release of 3 hours or less. Buildings can protect you by slowing the amount of air getting inside. Any chemical that may enter is weakened as it mixes with the indoor air.

It is important to stay indoors. If you see a chemical cloud outdoors or you can smell it indoors, you will be safer inside. There is no need to go to the schools to “rescue” your children. They will shelter-in-place. Stay indoors until told to evacuate.

What to do to shelter-in-place:

– Go indoors and stay there.

– Close all windows and doors.

– Turn off anything that moves air into or out of your home. This includes things like your furnace, air conditioner, hot water tank, fire place, ventilation fans, clothes dryer.

– Listen to the local media for updates.

– For added protections you many also seal cracks around windows and doors with wide tape and a rolled up damp towel at the floor space.

– Tape a piece of plastic over the room’s window to seal it.

– Post a sign in the front window or on the front door saying how many people are sheltered inside. If possible make the sign large enough to be seen from the street or front yard.

What to do if you can not safely leave your vehicle:

– Stay in your car and turn off the engine.

– Close all windows and doors.

– Shut off the heater or air conditioner so that it is not blowing air.

– Use your horn and headlights to signal you need help.

– Turn on your radio and follow instructions from emergency services personnel.

– You may be asked to leave on foot.