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Sheltering Tips

In a radiological emergency, what will happen?
Sirens will sound and officials will direct the public, over the Emergency Alert System, to either shelter-in-place or evacuate.

What to Do When Told to Shelter-In-Place
Nine Steps To Reduce Exposure to Harmful Radiation

1. Go inside and close all doors and windows.

2. Turn off all window fans, clothes dryers, kitchen and bath exhaust fans, air conditioners, and other sources of outside air.

3. Go to basement or lowest level possible.

4. Go to an interior space.

5. Stay away from all windows – glass will not protect you.

6. If you must be in a room with windows, sit on floor – below window level.

7. Bring a radio with you. Listen to your Emergency Alert System radio station-
WATD 95.9 FM, WBMX 98.5 FM, WPLM 99.1 FM or 1390 AM.

8. Keep pets indoors. If you have livestock, shelter them too.

9. Stay inside until officials say otherwise. The radioactive cloud may be passed but deposition of radioactive particulates will be deposited on the ground and get kicked up and become airborne. Therefore, when you go outside, cover your nose and mouth with a 3 M type mask or folded damp cloth. Dry fabrics are less effective in filtering iodine than wet fabrics. In addition, cover all exposed skin and hair to avoid the deposition and absorption of radioactive materials. It may be provided by any articles of clothing, including hats, gloves, rain gear and boots.


If you are traveling by motor vehicle in an affected area, close the windows and air vents.

Your car provides little protection, seek shelter inside a building.

Public Shelters

If the call is to shelter and you are home, you should stay there. If you are away from home go to the nearest shelter.

Make a point to learn where your town’s public shelters are located, now.

During school hours do not use the main portion of the schools as public shelters. The doors should be locked. You do not want to contaminate the school population by opening and shutting school doors.


If sheltering-in-place is recommended during school hours, children will be sheltered right in the school building, in spaces analyzed for maximum dose reduction.

Schools should be locked until officials cancel the shelter-in-place emergency call.

Prepare ahead of time

Familiarize your family with the location of your Town’s Public Shelters.

Prepare a kit and store it in your home shelter location – water, batteries, flashlight, portable radio, 3M type masks, potassium iodide (KI).

Discuss emergency plans with all members of your family so everyone knows what to do.


Environmental Protection Agency Guidance on Sheltering (EPA 400-R-92-001, pages 2-3)

Wood Frame House (first floor): 10% dose reduction
Wood Frame House (basement): 40% reduction dose
Masonry house: 40% reduction in dose
Office or industrial building: 80% or better reduction in dose


Evacuation Tips