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Plan & Prepare

Protective Actions: Sheltering-In-Place at Work

Before it is time to Shelter - in - Place:

Identify a safe room in your workplace.

  • Select interior room(s) above the ground floor, with the fewest windows or vents. The room(s) should have adequate space for everyone to be able to sit in. Avoid overcrowding by selecting several rooms if necessary.
    • Conference rooms without exterior windows, copy rooms, pantries, utility rooms and large storage closets work well.
    • Avoid selecting a room with mechanical equipment such as ventilation blowers or pipes , because this equipment may not be able to be sealed from the outdoors.
    • It is ideal to have a hard-wired telephone in the room(s) you select. Cellular telephone equipment may be overwhelmed or damaged during an emergency.
    • A word about BASEMENTS:
      • You should AVOID the basement if the emergency is NOT a tornado! If the emergency is some other type of severe weather event, your basement may become flooded. If the emergency is a chemical release – especially a release of chlorine or other gases that are heavier than air – these chemicals may seep into your basement even if the windows are closed.
      • However, basements are an ideal place to shelter IF the emergency is a tornado. In that case, the immediate threat is wind that may be strong enough to severely damage rooms that are above ground level.

Learn the details of your business’ Emergency Plan.

  • Your business may already have a robust plan, including directives to notify employees’ family members, details on Evacuation or Sheltering-in-Place, and details on providing up-to-date emergency information.
  • To learn how your business can create a plan, visit NJOEM’s “For Business & Industry” page.

When it is time to Shelter-in-Place:

  • Close the business.
  • Bring everyone into the room(s) you have chosen. Shut and lock the doors.
  • If there are customers, clients or visitors in the building, provider for their safety. Ask them to stay, not leave!
    • When authorities provide directions to shelter-in-place, they want everyone to take those steps NOW, where they are, and NOT drive or walk outdoors.
  • Unless there is an imminent threat, ask employees, customers, clients and visitors to call their emergency contact to let them know where they are and that they are safe.
  • Turn on call-forwarding or alternative telephone answering systems or services.
    • If the business has voicemail or an automated attendant, change the recording to indicate that the business is closed, and that staff and visitors are remaining in the building until authorities advise it is safe to leave.
  • If you are told there is danger of explosion, close the window shades, blinds or curtains.
  • Have employees familiar with your building’s mechanical system turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems.
    • Some systems automatically provide for exchange of inside air with outside air – and these systems, in particular, need to be turned off, sealed or disabled.
  • Gather essential disaster supplies, such as nonperishable food, bottled water, battery-powered radios, first aid supplies, flashlights, batteries, duct tape, plastic sheeting and plastic garbage bags.
  • Select interior room(s) above the ground floor, with the fewest windows or vents. The room(s) should have adequate space for everyone to be able to sit in. Avoid overcrowding by selecting several rooms if necessary.
    • Conference rooms without exterior windows, copy rooms, pantries, utility rooms and large storage closets work well.
    • Avoid selecting a room with mechanical equipment such as ventilation blowers or pipes, because this equipment may not be able to be sealed from the outdoors.
  • It is ideal to have a hard-wired telephone in the room(s) you select.
    • Call emergency contacts and have the phone available if you need to report a life-threatening condition.
    • Cellular telephone equipment may be overwhelmed or damaged during an emergency.
  • If the event is a chemical, biological or radiological release, use duct tape and plastic sheeting (heavier than food wrap) to seal all cracks around the door and any vents into the room.
  • Write down the names of everyone in the room . Call your business’ designated emergency contact to report who is in the room with you, and their affiliation with your business (employee, visitor, client, customer).
  • Keep listening to the radio or television until you are told all is safe or you are told to Evacuate or take Health-Related Actions. Local officials may call for evacuation in specific areas at greatest risk in your community.
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New Jersey Office of Emergency Management
P. O. Box 7068
Trenton, NJ 08628

 

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