Home Podcasts THMG176 – Shelter in Place Concepts, Part II

THMG176 – Shelter in Place Concepts, Part II


In part two 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

1:30 Dealing with Biological Agent Releases

  • Biggest threat here is infections
  • Again, evacuation isn’t really possible in large, populous areas
  • One example is anthrax – plume is gone long after symptoms start to show up
  • Isolation is important, as opposed to sheltering in place
  • Important to wear PPE and SCBA and to limit contact between people who are inside and people who are outside
  • When choosing a building to shelter in, consider whether its infrastructure is suitable for holding sick people – supply chain, utilities, additional medical needs, etc.
  • How to establish the safest inside environment:
    • Depends on the specific biological agent, but there’s no way to really meter for safety other than using swabs
    • Biological agents can stay around for a long time
  • Get information to the public via TV, radio, loudspeakers, and cell phones

11:30 Dealing with Dirty Bombs

  • Our biggest concern here is the radiation produced by the bomb
  • Evacuation area is probably going to be small – usually large chunks spread over small areas of a few hundred yards
  • When choosing a building for shelter, make sure it has a good structure that can block any radiation
  • Much easier to monitor for radiation than it is for some biological agents, which is a good thing
  • How to establish the safest inside environment:
    • Shut down the HVAC as per usual to keep what’s outside from coming in
    • You might also shut down HVAC if the incident is outside to keep it from spreading
    • Be smart with this – some systems might not exchange air with the outside, so check before shutting down
  • Get information to the public via TV, radio, loudspeakers, and cell phones

15:20 Dealing with Nuclear Detonations

  • Our biggest danger is fallout – if you’re not vaporized by the heat or crushed in a building collapse, that is
  • In a nuclear detonation, the bomb goes off near the ground – important because atmospheric blasts don’t create as much fallout
  • Fallout is produced by two separate events:
    • The actual vaporization of the material that’s being fissioned – depending on how high it explodes, there might not be much fallout
    • The blast and rush of neurons and other radioactive material irritates the dirt that’s kicked up during the explosion
  • Evacuating after a nuclear detonation is a huge operation
  • While plume modeling will help, you don’t know the extent of the air without metering and monitoring
  • The same is true with duration – fallout might drop off quickly, but you can’t be sure until you meter
  • How to establish the safest inside environment:
    • Remove clothing, shoes, and accessories before entering your shelter area
    • During severe weather, remove at least the outer layer of clothes before entering a building to avoid bringing radioactive material into your shelter – leave clothing and shoes outside
    • Shower and wash your body with soap and water – reduces the time you’re exposed and your risk of injury from radiation
    • Turn off fans, A/C units, and forced-air heating units that bring air in from the outside
    • Close and look all windows and doors and close fireplace dampers

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