In-Place Sheltering

There may be times that you must seek shelter in your home or business. This may be due to a hazardous material release in your local vicinity or because a severe storm, such as a tornado. In these instances, you must be prepared to stay inside and shelter in-place, and take appropriate actions to protect yourself from the hazard. This involves knowing how to shelter in-place or how to use a safe room.

In-Place Sheltering simply means staying inside your home, business, or other facility, or seeking shelter in the nearest available building. During an accidental release of toxic chemicals, or emergencies involving hazardous materials where air quality may be threatened, In-Place Sheltering keeps you inside a protected area and out of danger.

How will I be notified to Shelter In-Place?

Local law and public safety authorities are responsible for issuing orders for In-Place Sheltering during chemical or hazardous material emergencies. You may receive notice in several ways:

  • Directly from Police or Fire officials
  • Via a recorded telephone message from the Hampton Community Alert Network (CAN).
  • Through radio or television broadcasts
  • Through the Hampton COX Cable Television System audio feed.

As soon as you are notified that an emergency situation exists in your area, tune to your local Emergency Alert System station for further information. Primary EAS stations for the Eastern Virginia Operational Area are WGH radio (FM 97.3 MHz) and WAFX Radio (FM 106.9 MHz) . Local radio and television stations also provide EAS information during their local broadcasts. Emergency information and steps to be taken will be broadcast continuously until the emergency is over.

In-Place Sheltering in your Home

  • If possible, bring outdoor pets inside; do not unnecessarily risk your safety for your pet
  • Close and lock all doors and windows to the outside
  • Turn off all heating/air conditioning systems, and switch inlets or vents to the "closed" position
  • Close all fireplaces dampers
  • Seal gaps around window-type air conditioners, fireplace dampers, doors and windows with plastic sheeting, wax paper, aluminum wrap, or any other suitable material and tape
  • Seal bathroom exhaust fans or grills, range vents, dryer vents, and any other openings to the best extent possible
  • Close drapes, or shades over windows; stay away from windows
  • Remain in place until you are told by Police or Fire officials, or through radio or television broadcasts, that it is safe to leave

In-Place Sheltering at your Workplace

In addition to the directions listed for your home:

  • Ensure that all ventilation systems are set to 100 percent recirculation so that no outside air is drawn into the building
  • If 100 percent recirculation is not possible, ventilation systems should be turned off
  • Minimize use of elevators as they tend to "pump" air in and out of a building while moving up and down
  • Again, remain in place until you receive notice from Police or Fire officials, or radio or television broadcasts, that it is safe to leave

During an Accidental Release of Toxic Chemicals:


  • Stay inside your home, place of business, or another enclosed building
  • Tune to the Emergency Alert System (EAS) station on your radio or television for further information


  • Go outside or attempt to drive unless you are specifically instructed to evacuate; evacuation procedures may vary by community; fro specific information on evacuation, contact your Hampton Office of Emergency Management.

Safe Room Sheltering

During times of severe weather, especially events that have high winds such as hurricanes and tornadoes, it may be necessary to find shelter where you are. Every building will have some area that will provide a higher degree of safety. Unfortunately, other types of dwellings such as mobile or modular constructed homes do not have sufficient strength to withstand high winds. In those instances, the residents must evacuate from them and seek sheltering elsewhere.

The concept of a safe room has been developed and endorsed by FEMA, emergency management officials and other professionals. A safe room can be as simple as an interior room, a retrofitted room in an existing structure, or as a planned area that is included in new construction. Since the Hampton Roads area is in a Moderate Risk area for high winds, identifying a safe room will help individuals protect themselves during severe weather.