During a chemical incident, local officials may recommend that residents shelter in place.
To shelter in place during a chemical emergency, minimize airflow in the home by turning off furnaces, air conditioners, fans and heaters, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
You can use plastic sheeting to seal windows. Use duct tape to help cover gaps around windows and doors.
Babin, of Harris County Pollution Control Services and Department, said some residents may decide to shelter in place when air quality readings show some risk even if local officials have not recommended doing so — such as people with respiratory conditions, older people and those with young children.
“Even if there’s not a shelter in place called, you can protect yourself,” she said.
Issuing a shelter-in-place advisory is an extraordinary measure, and at times, the pollutant may dissipate quickly before officials decide to warn the public, she said.
“Even if the jurisdiction has not called it, if you know there’s a level of benzene … in your area, you can say, ‘Let’s not go outside,’” she said.
Sheltering in place can be an emotional rollercoaster, said Arellano of Fenceline Watch. Once a shelter-in-place advisory is recommended, residents must work quickly to seal all windows and doors shut. Then, the waiting begins for emergency updates.
“It's just about calming down at that point,” Arellano said.
Arellano recommends buying board games and finding ways to distract yourself.