A safe room is an ultra-secure location within a residence.
The concept of a safe room is simple, prepare a room within the interior of the home where the family can safely retreat during a threat and wait for help while potentially lowering the potential of the threat.
SEALING A SAFE ROOM
Pick a room with few, or if possible, no windows. Higher stories are better because chemical agents sink. If possible, pick a room with water, a toilet(makeshift if need be) and an electrical outlet. Set aside plenty of duct tape for sealing, doors,windows and vents. Prepare a 72 hour Go Pack and keep it in the room. Keep inexpensive breathing filters in the room, rated at N95 or better for each family member.
HOW TO PREPARE THE SEALED ROOM
All supplies should already be in the room.
To seal a room in a bio-chem emergency, first shut off all air intakes into the house (heat, air, attic fans, ceiling fans, etc.). If your home is heated with gas or uses gas appliances, shut off the gas. Get into the sealed room , and take your gas mask with you if you have one.
In the selected room, run tape along any windows where the glass joins the sill, where the sill meets the frame, and over all window seams and joins.
Entirely cover the windows with polethylene sheeting, trash bags or painter’s drop plastic sheeting that you can buy at the dollar tree or plastic shower curtains, anchoring the sheeting on every side on the wall around the window, and seal the sheeting to the wall thoroughly with duct tape.
When all the members of the family have entered the room, complete the sealing of the room by using adhesive tapes such as duck tape, packing tape, masking tape or painter’s tape between the door and the frame and between the frame and the wall. The space between the door and the floor should be covered with a towel. I’d pack that in firmly and seal it with duct tape as well.
Leave the front door unlocked, so as to allow rescue units to get into the house if needed. Your room still may not be perfectly air tight, but the air intake is quite diminished. Turn on the radio to get information.
Wait for an “All Clear” from the radio or from local municipal rescue/defense.
The wait could last for several hours.
Ideally, a sealed room has its own emergency filter that blocks particles and purifies the air from toxins. In the event of an emergency though, tape a towel to the back of the door so that it drapes over the space between the floor and the bottom of the door and lightly tuck it under to act as a filter but still allow some air flow into a room. When there is no door but an archway is sealed with plastic, cut a 4 inch by 4 inch hole in the plastic sheeting at head level then tape a towel over the hole to act as an air filter using a bleach/water solution periodically sprayed on the towel if a biological threat and vinegar if chemical or just plain water for radioactive dust.
HOW TO CREATE A QUARANTINE ROOM
Using a separate room then your safe room either on the first floor or the foyer area of the front door. Using duck tape and plastic sheeting such as mentioned earlier, seal off the area, but only either unlocking a window or the door by which potentially contaminated persons can enter the room. Place 72 hours worth of food and water along with the means to wash themselves and several trash bags, a change of clothing and a means of using the toilet, be it a bucket or a cooking pot and the necessary supplies to re-seal the room. Once all the supplies are placed in the area, seal off the area and signal the person or persons to enter the quarantine area.
Once they are inside direct them to seal their entrance into the room and strip off all clothing and place them in a trash bag and then place that trash bag in another trash bag and seal it as well by tying it then taping it shut. Next, have them wash themselves with soap and water paying extra attention to their hair placing the dirty water and rags in the makeshift toilet only if using soap and water, never urinate in any solution containing bleach as there is a chemical reaction between the ammonia in your urine and chlorine bleach creating a toxic chlorine gas that eats holes in your lungs and will kill you in an hour or so depending on the concentration of the gas and the size of the quarantine room. Have them put on the new, clean clothes and get comfortable because they will have to remain there for 72 hours before entering the rest of the house with everyone else to ensure that they are not infected of a biological agent, if chemical a noted response should be visiable in hours.
Keep the supplies ready so you can re-use the quarantine
room again if need be. If it is a radiological threat, once they have washed and
changed clothes they should be able to join the rest of the group in the house. If the threat is radiological, which ever side of the safe room you are using that is closest to an exterior house wall should be layered in radiation shielding material at least 3 feet high for you and your family to hide behind. This can be tipping over your refrigerator, re-positioning your washer and dryer, filling a plastic tub with water or stacking cases of bottled water. Draw a diagram of your first floor of your house. Now draw where all metal doors, fire places, and all large typical household metal appliances such as washer/dryer/dish washer/refrigerator and stove are. Now draw straight lines from the edges of these items through the house in the direction aiming towards the center of the house and shade in the area between the lines as if they were casting a shadow. These shaded areas are initial areas with lowered intensity potential for radiation penetration into your home. Pick a room where these shaded areas intersect and either is or close to the center of the house’s floor plan, this room is typically the laundry room or pantry on the first floor or the kitchen or half bath nearest the main corridor in apartments. These areas will usually offer the greatest shielding and distance from radioactive fallout’s radiation emissions.
HOW TO DECONTAMINATE YOURSELF
In order to decontaminate for radioactive dust or ash:
Remove all clothing and place inside a plastic trash bag then double seal it by placing it in another trash bag and sealing it with tape. Next, scrub yourself with soap and water paying extra attention to your hair and the exposed parts of your body with hair such as your arms, legs and face. Blow your nose or clean out your nostrils with tissue.
In order to decontaminate for a biological agent:
Remove all clothing and place inside a plastic trash bag then double seal it by placing it in another trash bag and sealing it with tape. Next, scrub yourself with 1 part bleach and 10 parts water solution over your body paying special attention to your finger nails but not your hair, face or sensitive areas, where you should use soap and water. Blow your nose or clean out your nostrils with tissue.
In order to decontaminate for chemical agent:
Remove all clothing and place inside a plastic trash bag then double seal it by placing it in another trash bag and sealing it with tape. Next, using either activated charcoal, regular(non-quick lighting) charcoal briquettes(if it smells like lighter fluid then don’t use it) or crushed wood coals(refer to how to make coal), scrub your skin that was exposed to the chemical agent to include your face, neck and exposed arms and legs then wash it off with soap and water. Blow your nose or clean out your nostrils with tissue.
RISK FACTORS FOR A BIOLOGICAL ATTACK:
All biological weapons have a high failure rate in terrorist attacks because even though they are quite deadly, dispersal/delivery of them in an effective way is difficult. Changes in ph of air quality, changes in temperature and humidity, changes in environment, and life span of the entity itself make efficient delivery of these bacteria and viruses difficult.
For example, Anthrax is, for all intents and purposes, 100 percent deadly when it enters the lungs of human beings. The minimum fatal dose for a person is one Anthrax spore. Yet spores that are small enough to infiltrate the blood vessels of the human lungs also tend to be highly static. They clump together and adhere to dust and dirt particles, which then make them too big to infiltrate the lungs. This problem of Anthrax delivery means that any people at “ground zero” of an Anthrax attack would probably be infected if they were directly exposed to a cloud or vapor falling on them. But those who get a warning signal and retreat into sealed rooms would have a good chance of survival.
Anthrax has a very small rate of “secondary uptake,” which means that once it hits the ground, it tends to end its delivery cycle. People who shelter in sealed rooms would have the unpleasant task of waiting it out for hours (as long as 24 hours) before they could move, and then would have to wait for days to see if they were infected or not, but as long as they remained calm and secluded from sprayed or “treated” (ie, infected) areas, they could escape infection.
Smallpox is far more persistent than Anthrax, (though less fatal, with a mortality rate at about 33% – 66%), and people at ground zero of an attack would fare the worst. But once it has been identified, people secure from the initial infection would have to be prepared to quarantine themselves to avoid contact from victims whose symptoms would not appear for several weeks. As difficult as this is, our society is better equipped to do this than it’s ever been before. Telecommuting is a fact of life.
Dispersing biological agents in a crop dusting plane is currently the quickest, most effective scenario yet envisioned. But the plane would have to fly quite low to drop enough of a concentration in a stable medium. From the evidence of one would-be terrorist who was arrested on September 22, 2001, using crop dusting equipment has at least entered the minds of some terrorist planners. But has not yet been attempted.
The more likely and dangerous alternative is for a biological weapon to be entered into the water supply unless it is a more contagious and aggressive biological agent. Filtering and water purification in the home may hinder the effectiveness of such a plan, and certainly boiling water for six minutes would probably kill any biological entity. But poisoning could occur and last for several days before symptoms appear. Drinking bottled water or at least boiling all water that comes from the tap (for six minutes) before you drink it might be a good precautionary step, if you fear a biological attack.
Chemical warfare terrorism is much more likely in terms of past successes with chemical agents. Mustard gas canisters can be opened and their vapors simply allowed to disperse—no explosions, no bursts of munitions, just quiet vapors. Their damage would not be known for a couple days. An unsuspecting and crowded public could suffer catastrophic pain, injury, blindness, and loss of life two days after the fact of exposure. This is one of the most realistic and horrifying of scenarios. Yet it is one that an educated public can prevent. Do not stand in any area where vapors are escaping. Teach your children not to stand in plumes of smoke or run through any vaporous substance. Iraq used mustard gas in smoke
bombs, thus enticing Iranian soldiers to run into the smoke to pursue supposedly retreating enemy soldiers. It was a highly successful ruse.
People in crowded or enclosed places are in the greatest danger of a terrorist chemical agent attack. Granted, a city might just get bombed by chemical warheads, but that scenario is not nearly as likely as a crowded building being sealed off from the outside and a chemical agent introduced into the ventilation system or simply opened up in the corners.
We know from the Tokyo subway attack that subways, terminals, even trains and planes are in the most danger of attacks like these. As are crowded buildings-especially theaters, which have no windows and are dark.
Many people buy gas masks, but chem-bio weapons can strike when a gas mask and bio-suit are out of range. And for the terrorist, that’s the ideal situation. So the answer is to be smarter than terrorists. Avoid crowded and dark, enclosed building interiors that rely heavily on a ventilation system rather than open windows and fresh air. Visit enclosed buildings only when it’s necessary, in their off-peak hours. (Remember, as we learned on September 11, our enemies like to make grand displays in very public places.) For example, go to the mall as soon as it opens or at around three in the afternoon on weekdays: NOT on Saturdays at noon. Don’t go to movies on opening night. If you are in a crowded, enclosed building, always know where the exits are and your path to reach them. Don’t linger; just complete your tasks and leave. Simply being very aware of your immediate environment has always been the first good defense.