Susan’s Suggestions for Pain-free Disaster Planning
Suggestion #7: Devise a procedure for “Shelter-in-Place” situations. Some emergency situations will require that your staff and patrons remain in your building rather than being evacuated; i.e. a chemical spill outside your building, a tornado, biological agent contamination. Confer with your facilities management people and your library’s administration to determine a location for your shelter-in-place. You will need two locations if you are located in a multi-story building. The shelter-in-place location for toxic material incidents will be in the highest part of your building, preferably in a room without windows, and the location for shelter-in-place from tornadoes will be in the lowest, most central part of your building. Include in your procedure an announcement that can be read on your public address system or via a bullhorn to let staff and patrons know that the procedure is being initiated, since there will be no alarms sounding. The shelter-in-place procedure should be near the front of your manual rather than filed with the various events, since it covers several events at once.
Gather the emergency supplies you will need in your shelter-in-place location and store them there, clearly marked as designated for emergencies only. Your list will probably include duct tape and plastic sheeting for sealing off air vents and doorways, an emergency flashlight, an emergency radio, and a first aid kit as basic items. As you think through the procedure for your situation, you may need to add to the list. Our library has chosen not to store water and food for shelter-in-place, rather to ask each staff member to have these supplies on hand for themselves, but storing these is recommended by many critical incident management sites, such as FEMA and Homeland Security.
As part of staff training, take the trainees to the shelter-in-place location(s) and show them the emergency supplies. Please see our Comprehensive Disaster Plan under “Shelter-in-Place” procedure for more details.