We all understand the importance of having a bug out bag and plan ready to go should we need to evacuate our home at a moment’s notice. But do we all understand the importance of having a Shelter-In-Place (SIP) plan?
Consider that all highways carry trucks transporting deadly chemicals. So does the railway system. Is there a chemical plant, oil refinery, power station or other large, industrial plant in your area? If so, all of them have the potential to release large amounts of toxins into the atmosphere during an emergency.
Let’s imagine that a train carrying deadly chemicals derails in your area. A cloud of toxic fumes fill the air and you have no option but to shelter in place. As a Prepper I am sure that you will want to know how to make a shelter in place room that is air tight to ensure your survival in this situation. Here is the information you will need to create your own shelter in place room.
What you will need:
1. A room in your house that will be your designated shelter in place room
2. Plastic sheeting – at least 2 – 4mm thick
3. Duct Tape
5. Emergency food and water supplies, and an AM/FM/Scanner radio
Step 1 – Select your room
The room you select for sheltering in place should be a central interior room of your house and preferably be above ground level. The room should have as few windows and doors as possible and ideally be at least 10 square feet per person in the room. If at all possible try to use a room with a water supply – something like a bedroom with an attached bathroom is perfect (remember, you may be in there for hours).
Step 2 – Prepare the room
To prepare your room you need to measure all windows, doors and air vents in the room.
Once you know the measurements you need to cut the plastic sheeting into sections that will cover each window, door and air vent. When cutting, make sure you cut the sheeting a few inches bigger than what you are covering.
Label each piece of plastic so you are not guessing which is which during a real emergency situation.
Step 3 – Making the room air tight
If you are forced to shelter in place then you will need to make your room air tight to prevent any toxic fumes from seeping in and you breathing them in.
To do this you will need to tape the plastic sheeting over the windows, etc., that you have written on each piece.
Start by taping the four corners of each sheet over the window and then tightly seal each edge with more duct tape.
Your room is prepared so let’s go back to our scenario of a train carrying chemicals derailing and toxic fumes fill the air – Here is what to do (add this to your existing Emergency Response Plan if one is in place):
Step 1 – Get everybody inside immediately – this includes any pets you may have.
Step 2 – Close and lock all windows and doors in your house
Step 3 – Turn off all air conditioning units and heating ducts
Step 4 – Head to your shelter in place room which you have already designated and prepared
Step 5 – Seal all windows, doors and air vents with the plastic sheeting as detailed above (If you do not have any plastic prepared use whatever materials you can find to create a barrier between you and the toxic fumes e.g. clothing, bed sheets – anything you can get your hands on)
Step 6 – Once the room is sealed, everybody should stay put. Make sure you have enough food and water stored. Listen to handheld radios or watch TV if there is one in the room to keep up to date with the news so you know what is going on outside your safe room.
One thing to bear in mind is the length of time you are able to stay safely in the room before dangerous levels of carbon dioxide build up. Eventually we will need new air in the room to flush the carbon dioxide that has built up and give us fresh oxygen to breathe.
Every time we breathe out we are putting carbon dioxide in the air at a rate of 288 liters per day – or about 10 cubic feet. But, when we’re exhaling, we’re also returning some of the oxygen we previously sucked into our lungs. Individual health and work-load are significant factors in determining how long you’ll last in the room.
So consider that in your plans. The estimates are an average adult can survive 12 to 17 hours in an airtight 10 x 10 room. Why? The quicker you breathe the quicker the carbon dioxide builds up, which reduces the amount of time your room stays safe. And you’ll be breathing more quickly during an emergency with a cloud of toxic gas floating over your home!
If possible accurate carbon dioxide detectors should be placed in the room so you are able to effectively monitor levels to keep yourself safe. Mount them at levels slightly below the height of where people’s noses will be (will you be laying on the floor, or sitting in a chair, or laying on a bed?).
Only leave your shelter in place room when emergency services broadcast a message informing you it is safe to do so.
For additional information on protecting yourself from Airborn Toxins, please see Preps For Airborn Toxins.