Why Shelter-in-Place Shelter-in-

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Santa Clara County Preparations                      Why Shelter-in-Place?
Because of ongoing concerns about potential          Shelter-in-place would be called for only if it were
terrorist attacks, the U.S. government is working    absolutely necessary to protect you from harm.
to improve overall preparation against terrorism.    Should you be asked to shelter-in-place, you would
One aspect of this preparation is to learn more      get information from local authorities through
about protecting ourselves against possible          television and radio about how to protect yourself,
biological, chemical and radiological attacks.       co-workers and family. The important thing is to
                                                     follow instructions of local authorities and to know
If a public health emergency happens in our          what to do if they ask you to shelter-in-place.
community, the Santa Clara County Public
Health Department will be the local agency           Choose and Equip a Shelter Room
responsible for preparing and guiding medical        Select interior room or rooms above the ground
response and public information efforts. During      floor, with the fewest windows or vents. Especially
such an emergency, a critical role of the Public     in the case of a chemical threat, a room above
Health Department will be to work with other         ground is preferable because some chemicals are
local first responders, such as fire and police.     heavier than air and may seep into a basement.
The Public Health Department will also
coordinate response activities with state and        The room should have adequate space for everyone
federal agencies.                                    to be able to sit. Avoid overcrowding by selecting
                                                     several rooms if necessary. Large storage closets,
The Santa Clara Public Health Department is          utility rooms, pantries, copy and conference rooms
providing this information to help you               without exterior windows will work well. Avoid
understand why you may be asked to shelter-in-       selecting a room with mechanical equipment like
place during a public health emergency.              ventilation blowers or pipes, because this equipment
                                                     may not be able to be sealed off.
What is Shelter-in-Place?
Shelter-in-place means remaining inside your         Gather essential disaster supplies, such as
home or place of work and protecting yourself        nonperishable food, bottled water, battery-powered
there. Shelter-in-place may be called for as a       radios, first-aid supplies, flashlights, batteries, duct
response to a biological, chemical or radiological   tape, plastic sheeting and plastic garbage bags.
hazard that has been released into the outside
environment. If you are asked to shelter-in-                                                    (See other side)
place by health officials, it has been determined
that evacuating (leaving) the area would be more
dangerous than staying indoors.
                                (Continued)   SHELTER-IN-PLACE
How to Shelter-in-Place                                    Shelter-in-Place at Work
If you are at home and emergency officials advise          If you are at work and there are customers,
you to shelter-in-place:                                   clients or visitors in the building, provide for
 Stay calm.                                               their safety by requiring them to stay inside the
 Bring children and pets indoors immediately.             building.
 Close and lock all windows and outside doors.             Unless there is an imminent threat, ask
 Turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning            employees, customers, clients and visitors to
  systems, and close exterior doors and windows.             call their emergency contact to let them know
  Turn off clothes dryers.                                   where they are and that they are safe.
 Some systems automatically provide for exchange           Turn on call-forwarding or alternative
  of inside air with outside air. These systems, in          telephone answering systems or services. If
  particular, need to be turned off, sealed or disabled.     you have voice mail or an automated attendant
                                                             service, change the recording to indicate that
 If you have a fireplace, close the damper.
                                                             your location is closed, and that staff and
 Gather your disaster supplies and battery powered          visitors will remain in the building until
  radio.                                                     authorities say it is safe to leave.
 Go to your shelter room. Use duct tape (wet               If you are told there is danger of explosion,
  towels if you don’t have duct tape) to seal doors,         close the window shades, blinds or curtains.
  exhaust fans, vents and windows.
                                                            Have a phone available if you need to report a
 Have a phone available if you need to report a life-       life-threatening condition.
  threatening condition.
                                                            Write down the names of everyone in the
 Listen to the radio or television for emergency            room, and call your business’ designated
  instructions and remain where you are until you are        emergency contact to report who is in the
  told all is safe.                                          room with you, and their affiliation with your
                                                             business (employee, visitor, client, family
                                                            Listen to the radio or television for emergency
                                                             instructions and remain where you are until
                                                             you are told all is safe.
                                                             If you have any questions about shelter-in-
                                                             place, please contact the Public Health
                                                             Information Line at 408.885.3980. Public
                                                             Health Department staff members are
                                                             available to answer your questions Monday to
                                                             Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

                                                             For information about putting together an
                                                             Emergency Preparation Plan, visit the
                                                             Department of Homeland Security site at
                                                    Also, see the Centers for
                                                             Disease Control and Prevention’s Web site at
                                                    for additional information.

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