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Sheltering indoors

During a tsunami, Estonians found safety in the hotel, which was later swept away by the tidal wave

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Sheltering indoors is the best way to protect yourself against the dangerous eternal environment, above all against the impact of chemical radiation and explosion caused by smoke from fire.

You need to shelter indoors

  • if the event is unexpected and you need to escape the dangerous external environment immediately;
  • if the risk is minor or event short-term;
  • if it is possible to get protection indoors against the risks of the external environment;
  • if evacuation is more dangerous than staying inside;
  • if the danger zone is extensive and there is no suitable place for evacuation.

How to be prepared for sheltering indoors

  • A suitable room at home for sheltering is, for example:
    • a room without windows in the middle of the building;
    • a room that accommodates all family members;
    • a room on an upper floor;
    • a room with as few openings requiring sealing as possible.
  • Check all the openings through which air is circulating into and out of the building – doors, windows (incl. micro-vents of windows), vents, chimneys. Assess whether these can be hermetically sealed. If possible, they don’t need additional sealing in case of air pollution.
  • Get some means for hermetically sealing the openings:
    • sufficiently wide tape, to cover air gaps and attach the film;
    • film (such as garbage bags), which can be used to close the vents with the help of tape;
    • door and window seals;
    • cloth that can be used to plug bigger holes and the gap between the bottom of a door and the floor (towels, sheets, etc.);
    • scissors or knife.
  • Find out how can you switch off ventilation equipment or other systems that use ambient air.
  • In case of radioactive contamination, you may get official instructions for sheltering in the basement. Find out whether your basement or the underground floor has a suitable room without windows for sheltering.

How to act when sheltering indoors

  • Follow the information and codes of conduct issued by authorities.
  • If you hear a warning signal or perceive a risk, go inside and stay there.
  • Favour a room without windows on an upper floor (many chemicals are heavier than air and fall down).
  • Block air inflow into the room where you have found shelter:
    • close the doors, windows and ventilation;
    • extinguish the fire in the fireplace and oven and close the chimney dampers;
    • seal windows, ventilation systems and other openings with a tape and film;
    • place a wet cloth under the door;
    • switch off all systems that use ambient air, such as ventilation devices, stoves, heaters and conditioners.
  • Keep close a battery-powered radio and mobile phone with charger.
  • Stay inside until you are sure that the danger has passed.

In case of risk of explosion

  • Shelter in a room with the strongest walls possible and without any windows.
  • If it is not possible to use a room without windows, take shelter in a room, the windows of which are on the side of the building where the risk of explosion is the smallest.
  • Stay away from windows; however, stay along the same wall with windows to make sure that the breaking glass does no harm.

In the car

  • If you have received an order to shelter indoors while driving and you cannot go fast and safely inside, stop by the road and stop the engine.
  • Close the windows and shut off the ventilation.
  • Listen to the radio to decide, based on the instructions, whether to drive outside the danger area, stay inside the car or take shelter in your nearest building.

What to do in a crisis

Every state does whatever it can to prevent or respond to crisis situations. Still, help will not always reach all people quickly enough because some crises can affect a large part of the population and last for days or even weeks.

Until help arrives and services are resumed, your welfare and that of your loved ones will largely depend on your own preparedness.

The web page “” contains tips on how to get prepared for various types of crisis situations and what to do if there actually is one.

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