BIOLOGICAL, CHEMICAL, & NUCLEAR
EVACUATION & IN-PLACE SHELTERING
a) an accident at the Tooele Army Depot or at
Dugway Proving Grounds
b) a terrorist or military attack
c) a truck or railroad accident
d) food or water contamination
If a biological, chemical, or nuclear incident were to happen here, there are 2 main ways that each of these things could be dealt with. One is to evacuate, and the other is to do 1 of 3 types of in-place sheltering. What is really important for you to know is that all of these things are survivable. We just need to do our part to be ready for whatever may come, and it really isn’t that hard.
|CHEMICAL||evacuate||short-term in-place sheltering|
|NUCLEAR||evacuate||long-term in-place sheltering|
I. First let’s talk about what happens if we
have to EVACUATE:
If authorities tell us to EVACUATE, they will probably only be evacuating one local area to another, since it would be physically impossible to evacuate Utah County with the limited number of access routes. But if we do need to EVACUATE:
• stay calm, listen carefully, and follow all instructions.
• listen to your radio to make sure the evacuation order applies to you or that it is coming from an
official source**. Note whether you are to evacuate immediately or if you have time to pack some
essentials. Do NOT use your telephone. Telephone lines are quickly jammed in an emergency.
**The only OFFICIAL sources of information are the stations listed below. Other stations are either getting their information from them, or they are making it up. Don’t trust any unofficial source.
for Utah County: KBYU 89.5 FM Radio
for SL County: KSL 1160 AM Radio
or KSL channel 5 TV
If you are told to evacuate immediately, do, and if feasible:
• Close and lock your windows
• Shut off all vents, furnaces, air conditioners, and air exchange units
• Grab your 72-hr kit and/or car emergency kit if possible
• Lock the doors
• Move quickly and calmly
• You do not need to turn off your refrigerator or freezer, but you should turn off all other appliances
and lights before locking your home as you leave.
• Make sure someone has notified the families in your Group of 10 and offer to help those who need help,
especially those with disabilities or other special needs.
• If you need a ride, ask a neighbor. If no neighbor is available to help you, listen to the emergency
broadcast station for further instructions.
• Take only one car to the evacuation destination if possible.
• Close your car windows and air vents and turn off the car heater or air conditioner.
• Do not take shortcuts because a shortcut may put you in the path of danger. For your safety, follow the
exact route you are told to take.
• If you take pets with you, take food for them too. Know that they will not be allowed in public shelters.
Do in-place sheltering if for some
it’s impossible for you to evacuate.
I. Second, let’s talk about what happens if we don’t have to evacuate.
Biological and chemical agents are carried either by wind (following normal wind patterns), in water, food,
or by animal or human carriers. Know that it is highly unlikely that we will have a problem with anything
airborne in the Edgemont area. But, if we do, or if you are somewhere else where something airborne does occur:
1st) Get out of the immediate vicinity of the incident if it is near to you. Cover your mouth and
nose with a wet cloth or shirt if possible. Run, don’t walk, and you will have time to move faster
than whatever is being carried by normal wind (which is only 2-3 mph). Get to where you can
hear official information**.
2nd) If you have been exposed to a chemical agent, follow the DECONTAMINATION instructions below as
quickly as possible.
3rd) Turn on your radio or TV to one of official stations listed above**.
If they tell you to EVACUATE, follow the instructions above. But if not, you will need to do one of the following IN-PLACE SHELTERING methods (if the problem is blowing your way).
SHORT-TERM IN-PLACE SHELTERING for a chemical problem:
IN ADVANCE, select a room in your home where you would do the in-place sheltering. An upstairs and interior room is by far the most preferable as some chemical hazards are heavier than air and travel along the ground and will enter basement shelters more easily. The room you choose should have caulked baseboards (or else get them caulked). And the room should be large enough to hold air for all the intended occupants. Be aware that a full-size dog uses twice as much air as an adult, and cats use half the air. To determine air needs and occupancy have everyone you’ll want in the room stand and twirl with outstretched arms (or paws). If they can do this without touching anyone else's outstretched arms there is enough air for one hour. (i.e. an 8 foot by 6 foot typical bathroom holds enough air for 2 adults and a child under 6 years of age for one hour.) You will probably only need to be in this room for about an hour. The chemical cloud will disperse quickly with the wind.
After selecting which room you’ll use, still IN ADVANCE, make a list and keep it handy of what you will keep in that room or bring there quickly if you have to shelter there. You will need to have:
ESSENTIAL TO HAVE ON HAND ALREADY:
• enough plastic sheeting (4 mil is better than 3 mil but you can use down to 2 mil) to cover any
windows, vents, or fixtures in your chosen room. Pre-cut and label the plastic sheeting as described
• 1 or 2 rolls of duct tape
• a radio or TV to check for OFFICIAL** news as to when it's safe to come out. It is better to have a
battery-powered radio on hand already, but if you are using an electric radio or TV, be sure to tape
around the plug at the outlet to keep air out (as well as taping over all other electric outlets). If you
are using a bathroom, remember to secure around the pipes under the sink, and around ceiling vents.
• a flashlight in case you lose power -- do not use candles or lanterns, as they burn valuable oxygen
• a porta-potty (5 or 6 gal. bucket lined with kitchen garbage bags + some RV/holding tank toilet chemical
or a pail of dirt + a lid or plastic snap-on toilet seat). If you use your regular inside toilet, DON’T
FLUSH IT, because this displaces valuable air.
• coats, blankets
• a telephone
HAVING MADE THESE DECISIONS IN ADVANCE, HERE’S WHAT YOU DO IF AN INCIDENT HAPPENS:
First: **Turn on a radio or TV for OFFICIAL information. In Utah County this is KBYU - 89.5 FM, and SL County is KSL - 1160 AM, or channel 5 on TV.
Second: Turn off all mechanical or electrically operated air intakes or air exchanges to your home, business, school, or church, etc., namely your furnace or air conditioner, chimney flue dampers, and any fans. TURN THE FURNACE OR A/C OFF either at the furnace switch or at the thermostat. Don’t just turn the thermostat down. Do not take the time to get on your roof to cover vents and/or chimney openings.
Third: Close, lock, and secure your home (windows, doors, animal entries, etc.). Close windows, blinds, and drapes.
Fourth: 1. Gather your family and pets and the listed supplies into your selected room, and using the pre-cut and labeled plastic sheeting*** and duct tape, make the room as air-tight as possible. While gathering your family, you can provide a minimal amount of protection to your breathing by covering your mouth and nose with a damp (not soaking wet) cloth.
2. Wet some towels and jam them in the crack under each door in that room.
3. With the pre-cut plastic sheeting and duct tape, cover over windows, heat vents, light switches,
power sockets, fireplaces, baseboard gaps (if the baseboards aren’t caulked), light fixtures, and
entire door frames.
*** In advance, cut the plastic sheeting to fit entirely over the window and door frame (so that you are actually taping the plastic onto the interior wall and not the casing), and then label each cut piece of plastic sheeting with a marker pen as to where it will go.
4. Limit activity and air usage in the room.
5. It is advisable not to use water from the taps or flush toilets as this could displace valuable air.
6. Do not use lanterns or candles. This definitely uses oxygen. If your power is still on, it is fine to use
your electric lights.
7. Stay inside your sealed shelter until you are told OFFICIALLY it is safe to leave. Realize you may still
need to stay indoors, quarantined, for a longer period of time.
When you are OFFICIALLY told it is safe to come out, have one person put a wet cloth over their mouth and nose and go through your house, opening up all doors and windows to air out anything that has come into your home. You can use fans to help air out your home.
QUARANTINING for a biological problem:
As you saw above, in-place sheltering for a chemical problem is extremely short-term and requires an absolutely air-tight room. Neither of these is the case when the problem is biological. It is extremely unlikely that we will experience a dangerous cloud of biological stuff blowing our way. More likely is that the problem will be an outbreak of some disease that comes either through contaminated food or water, or via contaminated people.
If this should occur QUARANTINING will be required. This means you, if you are sure you haven’t been exposed, will stay in your home for the length of the community life of the disease. This could as long as 3 months -- the authorities will tell you when it’s safe to stop the quarantine. During quarantining, you can use your heat and
electricity, go out to the wood pile and garage, but you must not come in contact with other people that you can’t be certain have not been exposed. If you are sure you have been exposed, go to the hospital immediately. If you don’t know whether you’ve been exposed or not, do separate quarantining of yourself from the rest of your family members -- perhaps in the garage, until you are sure one way or the other.
NUCLEAR ATTACK AND LONG TERM IN-PLACE SHELTERING:
If a Utah receives a nuclear blast, although it may not be right near us, the bigger danger is the fallout. This would be the case for us even if the blast were in California. Here are some facts to know:
• never look at the blast
• begin taking Thyroid-Block tablets or some other form of potassium-iodide/iodate according to the
instructions on the bottle (possibly 1 tablet/day for 2 weeks).
• decontaminate from fallout (fallout is dust, dirt, or particles that have radiation molecules attached to them.)
Anything porous must be thrown away. (See DECONTAMINATION instructions below)
• go to a FULL basement and stay there 100% for at least 2 weeks if you are within 350 downwind miles of the explosion. Listen to OFFICIAL information. Mass is what protects you from radiation. So window wells could be filled with dirt, magazines, or books. You will probably need to stay in your basement or fallout shelter for at least 6 days if you are further away than 350 miles, and then only come out for short periods after that until official information gives the OK. After 2 weeks you can come out for short periods of time, and after 3 weeks for several hours.
• water can be decontaminated from fallout
filtering it. Radiation does not attach to water, only to the dust
and particles that have dropped into the water. NEVER boil water with fallout in it until after is has been
• after 5 weeks it might safe to be outdoors for up to 14 hours/day.
If you have been exposed to a chemical agent or nuclear fallout, BEFORE ENTERING YOUR HOME OR SHELTER, remove ALL your clothing and all jewelry and wash your skin and hair completely: first with water, then with bleach (3/4 cup Clorox in 1 gallon water), then with soap and water. Don’t get the Clorox solution in your eyes, ears, nose, or mouth. If the problem is nuclear fallout, you can skip the Clorox step. You can also wash your jewelry and any plastic ID or credit cards. Dry off with a clean towel. All clothing, paper, and wash cloths, must be put into a garbage bag to be thrown away later when it is safe to go out. If it’s safe to be outside, and your water supply is safe, you can use your hose.
As you can see, this means you should keep 5 gallons of water, a wash cloth and towel, some Clorox, and soap and shampoo, some wet wipes, and some garbage bags in your garage or other decontamination place.
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