What Shelter-in-Place Means: Depending on your circumstances and the type of emergency, the first important decision is whether you stay put or get away. You should understand and plan for both possibilities. Use common sense and available information to determine if there is an immediate danger. In any emergency, local authorities may or may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. Use available information to assess the situation. VHCC has a PA system in place to use in the event of an emergency. The college will also utilize the campus email to alert campus occupants too. If you see large amounts of debris in the air, or if local authorities say the air is badly contaminated, you may want to "shelter-in-place." However, you should watch TV, listen to the radio, listen to the PA system, or check the Internet often for information or official instructions as it becomes available. If you are specifically told to evacuate or seek medical treatment, do so immediately. If you are instructed to shelter-in-place, do so quickly, orderly, and safely. Remember, do not panic. You do not want to create an injury that would necessitate having to move an injured person outside. Shelter-in-place means selecting a small, interior room, with no or few windows, and taking refuge there. It does not mean sealing off the entire building you are in, just the rooms. The following are the proper steps to take when you decide that your emergency would have you shelter-in-place:
Why you may be asked to shelter in place: Chemical, biological, or radiological contaminants may be released accidentally or intentionally into the environment. VHCC is adjacent to Interstate 81 which is a major artery for the transportation of hazardous materials. Should this occur, information will be provided by local authorities on television and radio stations and through college channels on how to protect students, faculty, and staff. Because information will most likely be provided on television and radio, it is important to keep a TV or radio on, even during the workday. The important thing is for you to follow instructions of local authorities and know what to do if they advise you to shelter-in-place. VHCC Campus Police and maintenance staff keep up-to-date Emergency Response Guidebooks for such emergencies.
A violent or armed assailant, civil disturbances, and workplace violence, may happen on campus. If this happens, turn the lights off and secure the door (from the inside if possible), be quiet, and gather in the back of the room away from the entrance. Stay there until the police alert you that the threat is over.
Severe weather/tornadoes can occur in our region often without sufficient warning. Sheltering-in-place should be immediately ordered and occupants should proceed to the predetermined sheltering location for specific buildings. When instructions are given to move occupants to a safe area, the move should be done safely and quickly. Necessary assistance will be made available for the handicapped. The safest areas are interior hallways on the first or basement floors away from windows. North and east walls are preferable to south and west walls. Sit in fetal position with face and head protected. These areas are:
ADM Building: Hallway near the Vice Presidents’ offices. MEC Building: Hallway near the Machine Shop. OTC Building: First floor hallway. ISC Building: East hallway and east side classrooms. NEB Building: Hallways or 903/905 LRC Building: Learning Lab area and that section of the Library near the Learning Lab. When the crisis is over
When you hear the "all clear" message over the emergency broadcast system, you should:
Remember that instructions to shelter-in-place are usually provided for durations of a few hours, not days or weeks. There is little danger that the room in which you are taking shelter will run out of oxygen and you will suffocate. At all times, try to remain calm and do not panic.