Seeking Shelter

The concept of seeking shelter is to provide protection from an outside atmosphere or condition that is immediately hazardous to health or safety. For example, such conditions may occur immediately following a hazardous materials accident or transportation accident with the release of a harmful substance into the environment. Seeking shelter is intended to be a short term action and provides protection until the hazard dissipates. In the event of an active violence or active shooter event, you should follow the protocols recommended on this site that includes: Active Violence Safety Guidelines.

The safest course of action in a hazardous materials release is to evacuate up wind and away from the hazard. Seeking shelter is used only when there is no safe evacuation route.

 Procedures for Seeking Shelter:

  • Seek shelter when an obviously hazardous environment exists or when advised by emergency services personnel, e.g. police, firefighters, emergency medical services (EMS), etc.
    • If there is an airborne hazard
      • Close doors and windows in your selected shelter area
      • Turn off fans and/or air conditioners
      • If possible, have the building heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) turned off
      • Use plastic sheeting, duct tape, towels, or clothes to seal windows, doors, air vents
    • Notify emergency services of your shelter location and the number of persons sheltered
    • Monitor commercial radio/TV for an all-clear notice
    • Remain in shelter until notified that conditions are safe to exit
  • Seek a safe shelter from the weather
    • Sheltering from severe weather is typically thought of for a tornado, however; severe thunderstorms can produce extremely high winds, heavy rains and lightning that can be hazardous or even fatal if precautions are not taken
    • MSU building Emergency Action Plans have pre-identified Weather Shelter locations that are shaded in yellow on the building’s posted emergency maps
    • If you cannot locate a posted map, seek shelter in an area that is as removed from windows as possible
    • Become familiar with those locations and be prepared to move to shelter if a weather warning is issued

Seeking shelter can also occur during a Severe Weather Event, such as a Tornado or Severe Thunderstorm with lightning.

Tornado and Severe Weather Event Tips for Safety

If you are INSIDE

  • Monitor weather watches and warnings
  • Warnings will be issued via public radio/TV, outdoor warning sirens, and/or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio
  • Move to a designated shelter when warnings are announced or sirens sound
  • Avoid windows and exposed areas that are hazardous, e.g., large expanse roofs, atrium, and ceiling areas
  • Stay in shelter and monitor public radio/TV and/or the NOAA radio for an “all clear” announcement.

If you are OUTSIDE

  • Be alert for severe weather:  observe visible lightning, thunder, fast moving/circulating cloud formations, severe weather warning sirens, and public radio/TV reports or radar images
  • Seek shelter in a sturdy buildings, e.g., parking ramps lower levels, brick or concrete buildings, basement areas of smaller structures
  • If unable to seek shelter then you must avoid trees, power lines, or other metal objects
  • Seek a ditch or other low point to shelter in and roll into a tucked position to shield your head, face and torso