Talking About Disaster: A Guide for Standard Messages
Table of Contents
Introduction and Purpose
What Is in This Guide
Using This Guide
Hazard Messages
Chemical Emergencies
Fires, Residential
Fires, Wildland
Floods and Flash Floods
Hazardous Materials Incidents
Heat (Heat Wave)
Hurricanes and Tropical Storms
Nuclear Power Plant Incidents
Thunderstorms, Severe
Winter Storms
Special Populations Messages
Talking to Children About Disasters
Preparedness Action Messages
Family Disaster Plan
Disaster Supplies Kit
Emergency Supplies for your Vehicle
First Aid Kit Contents
First Aid Kit for Pets
Stocking and Storing Food and Water
Smoke Alarms
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Fire Extinguishers
Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs)
Home Fire Sprinkler Systems
Portable Generators
Evacuation, Sheltering, and Post-Disaster Safety Messages
Evacuation, Sheltering, and Post-Disaster Safety
What to do if Evacuation is Necessary Because of a Storm
What to do When There is Flooding
“Wind Safe” Room
How to Shelter-in-Place (Chemical Incidents)
Factors for Protection from Radioactive Fallout
Food and Water Safety During/Post Disaster
Emergency Sanitation
How to Recognize and Treat Heat Emergencies
Frostbite and Hypothermia



 How to Shelter-in-Place (Chemical Incident)
Shelter-in-place applies to several types of terrorist attacks, but details will vary. For example, you would use duct tape and plastic sheeting to seal an internal room against chemical agents. For sheltering against radiation dispersed by a radiological dispersion device (RDD or “dirty bomb”) or radioactive fallout particles after a nuclear explosion, you would normally prefer a basement shelter to a higher floor; duct tape and plastic would help keep radioactive dust out, but primary protection from radioactive particles would be achieved by applying the principles of mass, distance, and time. (See Factors for Protection From Radioactive Fallout.)

If officials advise people in a specific area to
shelter-in-place because of a short-term chemical release, households should have the following in the shelter-in-place room:

Plastic sheeting pre-cut to fit room openings. (Cut the plastic a minimum of 6 inches wider than each opening. The thickness of the plastic should be 4 to 6 mils or greater.)
Duct tape and scissors. (The thickness of the duct tape should be 10 mils or greater.)

A shelter-in-place room should be an interior room, preferably one without windows, that you can seal to block out air that may be contaminated by the short-term release of hazardous chemical agents. The room should be above the ground-level floor. In the case of a chemical threat, an above-ground location is preferable because some agents are heavier than air and may seep into basements even if the windows are closed. Guidelines for sheltering-in-place are based on the need to shelter for only a few hours— more than sufficient time for a short-term release of airborne agents to dissipate. Ten square feet of floor space per person will provide sufficient air to prevent carbon dioxide build-up for up to five hours, assuming each person is resting and breathing at a normal rate.

During a Chemical Attack
The following are guidelines for what you should do in a chemical attack.

If you are instructed to remain in your home or office building, you should:

Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.
Turn off all ventilation, including furnaces, air conditioners, vents, and fans.
Go to shelter in an internal room and take your Disaster Supplies Kit. Be sure you have a working battery-powered radio.
Seal the room with duct tape and plastic sheeting. Use duct tape with a minimum thickness of 10 mils and pre-cut plastic sheeting with a thickness of 4 to 6 mils or greater to seal all cracks around doors, windows, and vents, and all wall plugs, switch plates, and cables.
If you are told there is danger of explosion, close the window shades, blinds, or curtains.
Call your emergency contact. Ideally your room will have a hard-wired telephone. Cellular telephone service may be overwhelmed or damaged during an emergency. You will need a working phone if you have to report a life-threatening emergency.
 Keep listening to your radio or television until you are told all is safe or you are told to evacuate. Local officials may call for evacuation in specific areas at greatest risk in your community.

At home:

Close the fireplace damper.
Bring your pets with you, and be sure to bring additional food and water for them. If you are caught in an unprotected area, you should:
Move away immediately.
Get upwind of the contaminated area.
Find shelter as quickly as possible.

Using HEPA Filters
HEPA filters may be useful in biological attacks. If you have a central heating and cooling system in your home with a HEPA filter, leave it on if it is running or turn the fan on if it is not running. Moving the air in the home through the filter will help remove the agents from the air.

If you have a portable HEPA filter, take it with you to the internal room where you are taking shelter and turn it on. If you are in an apartment or office building that has a modern central heating and cooling system, the system’s filtration should provide a relatively safe level of protection from outside biological contaminants.

HEPA filters will not filter chemical agents.

 (See Terrorism.”)

Initial development of this guide was made possible by a grant from the Home Safety Council, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to helping prevent the nearly 21 million medical visits
that occur on average each year from unintentional injuries in the home. Through national programs and partners across America, the Home Safety Council works to educate and empower families to take actions that help keep them safe in and around their homes. This guide is the product of the hard work and collaboration of many professionals affiliated with the organizations partnering with the American Red Cross, which represents the expertise and commitment of the following organizations:

American Geological InstituteDisability Preparedness CenterHome Safety CouncilThe Humane Society of the United StatesInstitute for Business & Home SafetyInternational Association of Emergency ManagersNational Fire Protection AssociationNational Interagency Fire CouncilNational SafeKids CampaignNational Science FoundationU.S. Consumer Product Safety CommissionU.S. Department of Agriculture -Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service -Extension Disaster Education Network -Food Safety and Inspection ServiceU.S. Department of Commerce - NOAA/National Weather ServiceU.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Food and Drug AdministrationU.S. Department of Homeland Security -Federal Emergency Management Agency -U.S. Fire AdministrationU.S. Department of Interior - U.S. Geological Survey
From: Talking About Disaster: Guide for Standard Messages. Washington, D.C., 2007.

Html Copyright The Disaster Center 2012

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