Shelter-in-place is the practice of going or remaining safely indoors during an outdoor release of a hazardous substance. Sheltering-in-place has been shown to be the most effective response during the first few hours of a substance release where the public would be at higher risk outdoors. The goal of sheltering-in-place is to reduce the movement of air into and out of a building until either the hazard has passed or other emergency actions can be taken. A decision to shelter-in-place is made to save lives - do not ignore it!


Pre-select an interior room/s with the least windows or vents:
  • Storage rooms.
  • Hallways.
  • Avoid rooms with mechanical equipment like ventilation blowers or pipes.
  • Room(s) should have adequate space for everyone to be able to sit down.
  • Avoid overcrowding by selecting several rooms.
  • Ideally, the room should have an adjoining bathroom. For example, master bedroom with ensuite or office with adjoining washroom.
Prepare a shelter-in-place kit containing the following:
  • Battery-operated (include batteries) or hand-crank AM/FM radio.
  • Plastic sheeting (pre-cut to size to cover any windows and doors and labelled).
  • Duct tape for sealing cracks around doors and windows.
  • Alternate lighting, in the event of a power outage (i.e., candle free lantern, flashlight, headlights (keeps your hands free), batteries, and light-stick).
  • Bottled water for drinking and wet towels.
  • Ready to eat, non-perishable snack foods.
  • Enough towels to block the bottoms of each door in the room.
  • First-aid kit.
  • Paper, pens and a list of important phone numbers.
Other important steps to take:
  • Ensure a hard-wired telephone or mobile phone is in the room you selected.
  • Consider a laptop or TV for information updates.
  • Conduct a shelter-in-place drill with those living in the residence twice a year.
  • Check the supplies of the shelter-in-place kit every six months.


  • Get everyone inside immediately, including pets.
  • Close all doors and windows.
  • Shut down furnace, air conditioners and exhaust fans and vents.
  • Close fireplace dampers.
  • Retrieve the shelter-in-place kit once inside the shelter-in-place room/s.
  • Seal any doors, windows, vents with plastics sheeting and tape.
  • Place wet towels at base of door/s.
  • Monitor media for updates (e.g. radio, mobile phones, etc.).
  • Go to your pre-designated shelter-in-place room.
  • Remain in the pre-designated room until an "all clear" message has been given by emergency officials.


  • When the "all clear" message is issued by an emergency broadcast or news alert, everyone can leave the room.
  • Open all doors to ventilate.
  • Replenish and re-stow shelter-in-place kit in designated location.