When the situation outside is dangerous, people should search for a rescue inside. Homeland security strives to be resilient and minimize predictable and unpredictable, occasional and deliberate damages. One of its main measures is well-organized sheltering-in-place. This paper provides the detailed knowledge of the meaning and implementations of sheltering-in-place. It informs under which circumstances it is effective and offers constructive advice on how to act in each of them. The research provides evidence and proofs why an entity should have a beforehand prepared and organized plan for sheltering and supplies comprehensive instructions, how the unities’ staff should behave in the case of chemical emission from the nearest plant. This paper aims to give evidence and emphasize that there are no better measures than a beforehand organized preparation for an emergency and a big deal of it lies on the entities.
Sheltering-in-Place and Its Aims
Sheltering-in-place implements when conditions outside are more dangerous than those inside. It helps individuals to stay in a safe place for a few hours until danger passes or emergency organizations evacuate them. Sheltering-in-place is practiced widely during nature disasters, like storms, chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats (Department of Safety & Security, n.d.), but is also well timed during military actions or if there is a threat of violence. The choice of place for a shelter depends on the matter of risk and danger. It is critical to possess information on what can be dangerous in one and useful in another situation while sheltering-in-place.
For example, if it is a tornado or radiological threat, then a basement room is the safest refuge. In the case of a chemical or biological threat, a shelter on the interior or higher floor serves better because many chemicals are heavier than air and go into the ground (Moulder, 2012). A place to provide refuge should have fewer windows and doors. It is good to have water supply, landline telephone, and radio in it. Centrally located rooms are relatively safer. Thus, the University of Chicago informs that for sheltering “work well-storage closet, utility rooms, pantries, break rooms and conference rooms without exterior windows” suit sheltering-in-place aim in the best way (Department of Safety & Security, n.d.). The most dangerous places to stay in an emergency are mobile units, as they can be ruined from an explosion or during any strong storm.
No matter what kind of danger chemical, radiological, biological, or nuclear is, the refugees should seal windows, doors, vents, cracks, and fireplaces during the emergency hours to prevent the poisoning air from soaking into the shelter. They also should turn off the heating, conditioning, and fan systems to stop air circulation and oxygen wasting. Sheltering-in-place cannot last long because of the lack of the air and possibility of suffocation, but it provides individuals with time to search and ask for help as well as avoid danger. In circumstances of nature disasters, sheltering-in-place can last longer, as it does not require room sealing. However, it requires communication or signal devices availability to be in touch with the emergency services. Sheltering-in-place during military and shooting actions implies such security measures as all windows and doors closing and barricading, turning off the light, hiding behind some big pieces of furniture, and avoiding corners where the debris concentrates. Thus, to behave properly while sheltering-in-place, an individual and an entity should possess information about the kind of a threat.
Why an Entity Should Have Sheltering-in-Place Plan?
The world around develops rapidly. Humanity designs new devices, techniques of production, and new weapons. Many inventions are dangerous or work with the help of hazardous substances and can cause local, regional, continental, or world harm any time. Consequently, various entities and every person should be ready and knowledgeable on how to meet any danger and protect those whom they love and are responsible for.
Each company is responsible for safety of each of its worker and visitor. That is why, it is vital for every big building to have two or more entrances and prepare a shelter for the maximum amount of people. Water and food reserves should be under control and renewed constantly. Landline phones should be regular and available because “cellular phone equipment may be overwhelmed or damaged during on emergency” (“Shelter-in-Place”, n.d.). Radio connection and the ability to hear the nearest sirens are critical too. That is why the personnel should check and replace the batteries for the radio and flashlights on a regular basis.
Responsibility of an entity for people’s and employees’ lives during an emergency is total. That is why the leaders of each company should pay great attention and enough financing to provide precise preparations and supply safeness to their workers and nearby people in the case of need. Each worker should get enough knowledge of the emergency plan and checklist to help him/herself and others. Moreover, all workers should have annual trainings for emergencies.
Policy and Plans for Entity’s Sheltering-in-Place
It is necessary for each entity to have a definite evacuation and sheltering plan. Its annual practice is the best way to get essential knowledge about safeness of everyone. Besides practical policy, every firm should have a financial and controlling one. The role of controlling policy lies in regular checking whether everything prepared for emergency sheltering is available, working, and fresh (products, water). Financial policy lies in a proper supply of everything required for safety of people who will be in the shelter for hours.
A company should work out a plan of rapid actions for each kind of emergency. The sequence of big bank’s actions with many employees and clients in a case of hazardous chemical emission from the nearby plant can serve as an example. Firstly, all businesses must stop and all people should be located in the safe shelters. The employees should ask all clients to stay in the building and avoid going out. Simultaneously, one of the employees should change the message of telephone answering system with the information that all workers and visitors are in the shelters and they need help. Secondly, the staff should close the doors and windows of the shelters and turn off heating, conditioning, and vents. People should immediately seal all air soaking places and cracks with a duct tape. The bank should avoid overcrowding in the shelters. Every person should have adequate place to sit. Then, one of the workers should call an emergency services to inform them about the situation and wait for further instructions. Another employee should make a list of people in the building and provide emergency services with the information of their surnames and their affiliation with the bank. All people in the shelter should listen to the radio for further instructions and stay in the shelters until the evacuation or the announcement that the danger has passed. The University of Chicago emphasizes that it is also important to remember that if someone outside searches for a shelter, he/she should take off clothes and wash him/herself with warm water before entering a shelter (Department of Safety & Security, n.d.).
It follows from the before mentioned plan that it is essential for each worker to know his/her obligations to organize sheltering process in a proper way. Besides the previously mentioned measures, the circumstances may go in unpredictable way, and there can be need of someone, who can provide emergency services or calm down mass panic, working as a psychologist. An entity should consider beforehand the abilities and skills of its each worker and define his/her role.
In an emergency, everyone feels his/her responsibility for everyone around, but total responsibility lies on the entities. They are responsible for everyone who might have a relation to their business (employees, servants, clients, and passers-by). No private apartment can shelter a hundred people in an emergency, but a company’s building can. No person can bear emergency provision along every day, but an entity must have such supplies for many people on a regular basis. An entity shows considerable potential to save lives. No one but entities must bother more about emergencies and immediate provision of help because only they can organize proper and adequate activity of many people (their workers) in advance to take the situation under control in an emergency.
Each reputable entity should establish emergency preparation policy and follow it. Workers should practice annual training and realize the scheme of a group work and their own role in this scheme in critical and dangerous situations. A company must not cut down expenses on all necessary emergency things and food providing because no one knows, when the danger can occur. Moreover, the entities’ buildings are one of the first places, where people will search help. It is impossible to foresee everything, but prior preparation and plan of actions to what is possible to happen and is widely spread must have place in the civilized world.
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