Government Advises 'Shelter In Place' Plan For Terror Attack
Plan Used In Event Of Major Incident

POSTED: 5:29 pm EST February 7, 2006
UPDATED: 11:41 am EST February 8, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Local governments now warn that in the event of a major terrorism incident, people in the Washington, D.C., area will likely be advised to do what's called "shelter in place."

"Shelter in place" means that in the event of an incident such as the derailment of a train carrying poisonous chemicals or chemical attack, people would be ordered to stay inside for an unspecified amount of time.

Enrique Navarette, a clothing store manager from Northern Virginia, already has a "shelter in place" plan in the event of an emergency.

Navarette keeps a generator in a shed behind his house. Inside the house, Navarette keeps a set of shelves stocked with enough food and supplies to take care of his family for a week.

The Navarettes also keep an emergency radio in their bedroom that "beeps" to alert them to announcements about weather or civil emergencies.

According to Federal Emergency Management Agency guidelines just about any interior room, usually a bathroom in a commercial business or a home, can be used as a shelter room.

One can create a shelter room by using plastic tarp and duct tape to seal the room at all places where tainted air can seep in. Once sealed, a shelter room can only be occupied for a few hours.

The Akridge Property Management Company also has a shelter plan in place.

The flagship building on 13th Street in Northwest is three blocks from the White House. The building was evacuated along with the rest of downtown during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

This year, the company's holiday gift to employees was an emergency kit. It holds FEMA-recommended supplies, including plastic pouches of drinking water, a glow-stick for lighting, a disposable blanket, a whistle, and a paper facemask.

"It's pretty clear that if something happens again, probably the first thing they're going to do is tell you to stay in place, and people should be prepared to stay for a number of hours to a couple of days," said Kathy Barnes of the Akridge Company.

Preparedness expert Tom Panther said it is vital to not just have a plan, but to reinforce it on a regular basis.

"It's easy for anybody to sit down, and to develop a plan once, and walk away from it. Whereas you can spend five minutes once a month at dinner and go back over the basics."

Copyright 2006 by