Sheltering in Place

Where, inside, are the safest places to be?

Some emergencies — such as fire — will require you to get out fast, while others may require that you stay. Make sure that everyone in your studio knows the best escape route, as well as a secondary one.

What to do if you can’t or shouldn’t leave your studio?

There’s been a disaster. The electricity is down, so you’re relying for information on your battery run/solar/crank radio. The news being broadcast about the emergency says that roads are blocked with debris and water. You need to stay where you are.

When the situation dictates that you do not evacuate, make sure everyone in your studio knows where the safest places are for each type of emergency situation.

For these shelter-in-place situations:

  • Listen to your NOAA weather radio. Be sure the alarm is turned up loud enough that you can hear it from any room. Stay alert during a tornado watch and use the time to make last-minute preparations such as moving people and pets inside. At the first sound of a tornado warning move yourself and others to your safe place.

  • If you have power, stay tuned to your local TV station with the best weather reporting.  Move to your safe place as soon as a tornado warning is issued.

  • Have a designated safe place to shelter during a tornado warning. This can be a basement, downstairs bathroom, closet, interior hallway, or other small room that is structurally sound and safe from flying glass.  If you are in a bathroom, get into the bathtub and cover yourself with a mattress or sofa cushion so you will be protected on all sides.

  • Helmets or hard hats, especially those with face protection provide extra protection while in your safe room.  The most serious injuries caused by tornadoes are head injuries, and the hands and arms are inadequate to protect the head and face. 

  • A mobile home is not a safe place to be in a tornado, even if strapped to the ground. If you are in a mobile home community seek shelter in a more substantial building, and as a last resort take refuge in a ditch, culvert or other low-lying area.

  • If you are in an office building, shopping center, or other building away from home, take shelter in a smaller interior room, bathroom, or hallway on a lower level.  Avoid areas with wide expanses of roof that could collapse on you. A space under a heavy piece of furniture or a corner may provide protection against falling objects and flying debris.

  • Schools and some commercial buildings will have plans and designated shelters.  Follow instructions and/or ask where the designated shelter is located. Otherwise try to locate a safe place on a lower level as described above, where you are protected from flying glass, debris, and protected from roof collapse. 

  • Automobiles are routinely picked up and destroyed by tornadoes.  If you are in your car, stop and take shelter in a building, or as a last resort, take shelter in a culvert or ditch, and try to protect yourself from flying debris.  Do not try to outrun a tornado!

  • Stay indoors during the storm and away from windows and glass doors.

  • Close all interior doors. Secure and brace external doors.

  • Take refuge in a basement, small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level.

  • Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm. Winds may pick up again.

  • Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.

  • Listen to the radio or television for information.

  • If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Don’t wait to be told to move!

  • Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.

  • Listen to the radio or television for information.

  • Do not walk or drive through moving water if you have to leave your studio or home. It takes far less water than you would think to sweep away a person or cause an automobile to float and wash away! Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you. Treat flood water as a toxic substance and avoid wading in it unless absolutely necessary.

  • Don't Panic and Don't Run, and especially don't run outside if you are inside.  You may be hit by falling debris. Running during an earthquake is very difficult and you are likely to fall and injure yourself.

  • Drop, Cover, Hold On - Find a spot to wait out the earthquake, next to an inside wall under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a heavy desk or table that will protect you from falling debris. Hold on to a table leg or part of the furniture.

  • Stay away from windows, mirrors and pictures where glass could shatter, and from areas where heavy bookcases or other heavy furniture could fall over.

  • Turn off gas, water and electricity.

  • Listen to the radio or television for information.

  • Be prepared for after-shocks.

Drop, Cover, Hold On is the mantra for what to do when an earthquake strikes.  Dropcoverholdon.org has tips for protecting yourself during a quake, and you can test your knowledge on preparing a room for a quake with their game "Beat the Quake."

California, the Central U.S., and states in other siesmic zones have periodic "ShakeOuts" or earthquake preparedness drills.  Find out what is happening and get information on how to participate at www.shakeout.org.


Here is a video on eartquake safety from My Safe LA:


Drop, Cover, Hold On from mysafela.org on Vimeo.

Here are some tips for getting by in a widespread and extended power outage:

  • Don't open your refrigerator or freezer unnecessarily after power is off.

  • Always have a good cooler on hand-and ice in the freezer.

  • Get your food out of the refrigerator before it goes bad, and throw out anything that is questionable. If you get sick, it may be difficult to get emergency services.

  • Turn off power to your appliances, especially your stove and other things that could cause a fire or injury if they came on unexpectedly. Turn off power to HVAC, water heater and other heavy power users, to help avoid a spike in demand when the power comes back on. Leave a light or two on so you will know when you have power.

  • Have some emergency cash on hand. Even if stores are open, most will only be able to accept cash because of loss of power and/or data lines. Functioning ATM's are bound to have long lines and may be far away.  That is a problem when gasoline is in short supply, too.

  • Conserve water. Have a back-up supply of drinking water. There may be no power to water treatment facilities, pumps, or monitoring equipment. Along with hospitals those are often the the first priorities for restoring power, but it is possible that safe drinking water may be in short supply for a while.

  • Conserve gasoline. It may be several days until gas stations are able to get generators and rig up to their pumps. Functioning gas stations may be in short supply, far away and have long lines.

  • This should be a no-brainer: If you have a generator, don't put it inside. There is usually a rash of carbon monoxide poisonings from running generators in enclosed spaces like garages.

  • Don't try to rig up a portable generator to your house wiring. Besides being dangerous to you, the power goes back down the lines and line-workers get electrocuted.

  • Run the generator only for critical functions to conserve fuel. Also, turn off the generator before refueling.

  • Have a battery-powered radio on hand-this is your lifeline. Be sure you have a good stock of batteries. Batteries, particularly D cells, may be in short supply.  Modern LED flashlights and lanterns will operate for an extended period of time on a few batteries.  And be sure you have a NOAA weather radio with a battery back-up. It may save your life, especially if a storm hits at night.

  • A portable cook stove or way to build a fire safely is handy if you require coffee, tea, or an occasional warm meal. Be sure to use it oudoors only!

  • If you are in a warm climate, you can heat water for bathing in the sun in a dark plastic container or garden hose. Truck stops sometimes advertise free showers to lure them in to buy gas.

  • Big box stores like Lowe's and Home Depot are usually prepared to do business in an emergency. They have backup power to their cash registers and bring in emergency supplies like generators quickly.

  • Keep your temper and cut EVERYONE lots of slack! 

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