Home Podcasts THMG175 – Shelter in Place Concepts, Part I

THMG175 – Shelter in Place Concepts, Part I


In part one of a two-part series, Bob and Mike discuss the seemingly-constant struggle of deciding whether to shelter in place or evacuate.

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Complete Show Notes

3:30 What is Shelter in Place?

  • Staying inside vs. being outside when evacuating an area
  • Doesn’t necessarily mean you’re staying put

4:30 Why Do We Shelter in Place?

  • There are several reasons why sheltering in place can be necessary
  • Most shelter in place decisions involve a risk-benefit analysis
  • Sheltering in place isn’t just for hazmat – can be used for everything from natural or manmade disasters to active shooter situations

11:15 Dealing with Bombs

  • Bombs pose several threats – thermo (heat), mechanical (shards), and pressure waves
  • ERG contains ATF standoff distances – large cities can’t always follow these, though
  • If you can see the bomb, get something between you and it – a building, a wall, a corner, etc.
  • Remember that not all buildings are designed to protect against bombs (Oklahoma City, anybody?)
  • How to establish the safest environment inside:
    • It’s important to consider the size of the building – if you’ve got a big bomb and a small building, it’s time to evacuate
    • Energy coming off an explosion follows similar rules in terms of distance as radiation – pressure wave will diminish quickly
    • Building type and construction are also important, along with the window situation you’re dealing with
    • If you are sheltering in place, stay away from windows and exterior walls facing the blast
    • Inform the population – have someone whose sole job is to communicate about the hazard

22:50 Dealing with Chemical Releases

  • Inhalation is our biggest concern when dealing with chemical releases
  • Areas with large populations can’t be evacuated, so sheltering in place might be faster
  • It’s almost always better to stay inside than go outside
  • Close exterior openings and stop ventilation systems when feasible
  • Retreating to an interior room without windows and away from exterior walls provides a magnitude of protection – closets are ideal because all of the fabric hanging has a higher absorption rate than a bathroom with tile and glass surfaces
  • Stay inside until the outdoor concentration is lower than the inside concentration
  • Mitigation strategies of the past that included duct tape seals and plastic are no longer advised
  • Time spent gathering supplies and applying the seal is too great for a fast-moving chemical plume
  • How to establish the safest environment inside:
    • Turn off HVAC units to minimize the amount of air flow
    • Close windows and move people into a more interior space
    • Depending on chemical properties, you might tell people to stay in the upper portions of a building
    • Understand the plume concentration curve – gives you an idea of what you need to be monitoring inside and outside
    • The moment levels drop outside, you need to vent – it takes time for the chemical to move from inside to outside
    • Get information to the public using TV, radio, loudspeakers, and cell phones

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