If there’s something that the recent COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s the importance of households having a shelter-in-place plan. Although shelter-in-place orders were used to reduce the likelihood of this virus spreading like wildfire through communities, shelter-in-place plans aren’t just useful for dealing with pandemics. People can shelter-in-place for a variety of different emergencies including not only biological threats such as viruses but also for chemical and radiological threats that might arise.

While it’s certainly true that the best strategy in most situations is to get out of the area—a move that’s often referred to as bugging out—that’s not always possible. Sometimes the only choice a person has to protect themselves and their family is to shelter-in-place. That’s why we’ve decided to write a guide on this subject. There are thousands of guides advising people on how they should evacuate an area during an emergency, but there are few guides that explain to the average person how to properly shelter in place. With this guide, we’re rectifying that problem.

Put Together A Plan

The first step to preparing for a shelter-in-place situation is to determine what threats might affect your area and require you to shelter in place. Some threats such as COVID-19 are capable of affecting everyone, other situations such as tornadoes or hurricanes don’t affect everyone equally and some areas are more prone to these disasters than others. So everyone needs to compile a list of disasters that could occur in their area. This should include situations that might not be very likely to occur, such as an asteroid strike. This is to ensure that you’re aware of the threats that might affect you, so you can take the proper precautions.

Once you’re aware of the disasters that could potentially affect you and your family, it’s time to think about evacuation procedures first. Yes, we know that this is an article on sheltering in place, but as we said, the preferable way to deal with an emergency, if possible, is to evacuate. If evacuating doesn’t make sense, then sheltering in place is what the household is going to have to do.

An evacuation plan needs to be encompassing enough to be useful, however. A good plan should give the household several different routes to safety and should include things that the household is going to take with them to help them on their way to a secondary location. This is usually a Bug Out Bag or EDC Backpack.  Some people take it a step further and bury supply caches along their routes so they can be retrieved as needed while the household is evacuating, but not everyone finds that necessary.

Gather The Necessary Supplies & Tools

The next step to preparing for a shelter-in-place scenario is to gather together the supplies that you might need. Although no one knows how long a particular emergency is going to last, it’s important to at least give you and your family a nice little supply cache that can tide you over until you can either evacuate or until help arrives. Below are some of the supplies that your household is going to need during a shelter-in-place situation.

Basic Disaster Supply Kit:

  • 1-gallon of water per person/per day for at least 3-days.
  • 3-days of non-perishable food for each person.
  • 7-day supply of necessary medications, supplements & vitamins.
  • A complete first-aid kit.
  • Manual can opener.
  • Crank flashlight or regular flashlight with extra batteries.
  • Signal whistle.
  • Plastic sheeting.
  • Duct tape.
  • Garbage bags, twist-ties, and towelettes for personal sanitation.
  • Toilet paper and baby wipes.
  • Premixed baby formula.
  • Baby Diapers.
  • Extra food and water for pets.
  • Multitool.
  • Paper plates & plastic utensils.
  • Feminine supplies.
  • Sleeping bag liner
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Extra clothing, washcloths & bath towels.
  • Household chlorine bleach
  • Medicine dropper.
  • Local maps.
  • Extra cash.
  • Paper & pencil.
  • Important documentation (birth certificates, IDs, etc.).
  • Dust mask and gas mask.
  • Hand-crank NOAA radio.

Gather Supplies For Evacuation

Although we won’t go into depth describing what should be in your EDC Bag, your Bug-Out-Bag, and your Emergency Vehicle Bag, we will say that every household should have these three basic bags made up just in case they have to evacuate. The vehicle bag stays in the household’s vehicles, and the EDC kits are what people carry with them. Most people keep their bug-out bags, or BOBS, near their disaster preparedness kit.

Create A Stay-At-Work Kit

When an emergency arises, not everyone has to shelter-in-place at home or in their car. Some people may have to shelter-in-place at work. That’s why everyone should have a basic shelter-at-work kit that will help get them through. Since most people don’t have a ton of space at work to store emergency supplies, most shelter-at-work kits only have enough supplies for 24 hours. Some of the things that should be in this kit include:

  • 1-day of food & water.
  • Multitool.
  • Comfortable walking shoes.
  • Necessary medicines.

Additional Supplies For Virus Pandemics

Although the above kit is a great start for an emergency kit, it’s still going to need to be supplemented with additional kits. And an upgrade that can be made to any home’s emergency kit is a COVID-19 or Pandemic Kit. The following items will help you and your family deal with these disasters better. Let’s take a quick look at this kit, shall we?

  • N95 and/or face coverings.
  • Hand sanitizer.
  • Disinfecting wipes.
  • Liquid hand soap.
  • Nitrile gloves.
  • UV sanitizing boxes and/or UV lamps.
  • Pedialyte.
  • Aspirin.
  • Face shield.

Tips For Sheltering In Place

Now that you have a plan and the necessary supplies to shelter-in-place, let’s take a few moments to talk about what sheltering in place might look like and how to do it properly. Although some of the following tips might not apply to all situations, it is worth knowing the following general tips so that you can apply them when they’re needed.

  • Watch television or listen to the radio to learn important information.
  • Make sure to bring all family members and pets inside.
  • Make sure all doors and windows are locked.
  • If necessary, cover windows with plastic sheeting and duct tape.
  • Turn off fans, central heating systems, or air vents, if needed.
  • If necessary, move to an interior room away from windows or to a basement.
  • Take the household emergency kit with you if relocating to a different room.
  • Keep bug out bags and EDC kits handy.
  • Stay Calm.