Saint Louis University


"Shelter-in-place" means taking refuge in an interior room within your building, or one with no or few windows. In many cases, local authorities will issue advice to shelter-in-place via TV or radio. In an imminent life safety situation, information with be provided to you through the University Emergency Notification System.

What kind of situations might result in a decision to institute "shelter-in-place"?
Whether by accident or on purpose, chemical, biological or radiological contaminants can be released into the environment in such quantity or proximity to the University that it is safer to remain indoors rather than to evacuate. 

Procedures for sheltering-in-place:

  • Do not walk outdoors or try to drive away.
  • Unless there is an imminent threat, remain in place and wait for further instructions.
  • Quickly lock exterior doors and close windows.
  • Close air vents and fireplace dampers.
  • Have employees familiar with your building's mechanical systems turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems, and clothes dryers. Some systems automatically provide for exchange of inside air with outside air. These systems, in particular, need to be turned off, sealed, or disabled.
  • If you are told there is danger of explosion, close the window shades, blinds, or curtains.
  • 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.
  • Remain in place until instructed by a professional to do otherwise.

While you shelter-in-place:

  • 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. Avoid overcrowding by selecting several rooms if necessary. Large storage closets, utility rooms, pantries, copy and conference rooms without exterior windows will work well.
  • Avoid selecting a room with mechanical equipment like 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.
  • Take your emergency supplies and go into the room you have designated. Seal all windows, doors, and vents with plastic sheeting and duct tape or anything else you have on hand.
  • Consider precutting plastic sheeting (heavier than food wrap) to seal windows, doors, and air vents. Each piece should be several inches larger than the space you want to cover so that it lies flat against the wall. Label each piece with the location of where it fits.
  • Write down the names of everyone in the room, and 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).
  • Follow the instructions provided by the Emergency Notification System and listen to the radio, watch television, or use the Internet for further instructions from City, State and Federal officials, or until you are told all is safe to evacuate by the Department of Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness or other professional responders. Local officials may call for evacuation in specific areas at greatest risk in your community.
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