Sometimes the best way to stay safe during an emergency is to get inside and stay there. The types of sheltering are Shelter at Home and Shelter in Place.

Family on Couch

If You Are Directed to Shelter at Home:

Shelter at Home orders limit movement to essential activities only (such as doctor visits, grocery shopping, or going to work for essential workers). 

  • Remain indoors as much as possible and try to only leave your home when necessary. You can still use outdoor spaces such as patios, porches, and yards.
  • Outdoor activities such as walking, jogging and exercise are fine if you practice social distancing (maintaining six feet away from the next person).
  • When outside, try not to touch anything (light signals, poles, signs, playground equipment, benches, etc.) 
  • Essential services such as grocery shopping, the gas station, pharmacies, and going to the Post Office are still fine to do.
  • Limit visitors if possible. Try to use video chatting, phone calls, or texts. 

If You Are Directed to Shelter in Place: 

Sheltering in place refers to staying inside with all doors and windows closed and ventilation systems turned off. Sheltering in place reduces exposure to radioactive materials. It reduces the chance of inhaling or receiving body surface contamination from radioactive materials if they pass overhead. During a nuclear incident, sheltering in place may be directed. If you are ordered to shelter in place, act quickly. 

  • Gather members of your household and pets inside the nearest building.
  • If children are at school, DO NOT pick them up unless you are directed to do so
    (if schools are sheltering in place they will not open their doors).
  • If you are not at home, shelter in the building nearest you.
  • If you are in transit, you should enter a nearby building or leave the affected area if you are unable to find shelter.
  • Lock doors, close windows, air vents and fireplace dampers.
  • Turn off fans, air conditioning and forced air heating systems.
  • Take your emergency supply kit unless you have reason to believe it has been contaminated.
  • In some types of emergencies, you will need to stop outside air from entering.  “Sealing a room” is considered a temporary protective measure to create a barrier between you and potentially contaminated air outside. To do so:
    • Shut and tightly seal all doors and windows. Use duct tape and heavy plastic sheeting or place towels to fill gaps in door frames or windows. Be prepared to improvise and use what you have available
    • Turn off systems that bring in outside air. These include furnaces, fireplaces, air conditioners, vents and clothes dryers.
  • Move to the center of the house or building.
  • If you must go outside, place a damp cloth or towel over your mouth and nose. During a nuclear incident, this will limit the amount of radioactive materials you breathe in. Limit your time outside as much as possible.
  • Stay tuned to your local  emergency alerts, radio, television stations, or check the Internet often for new information as the situation changes or until an “all clear” is issued.