What Makes a Good Shelter-in-Place?

In some industries, hazards are something you have to plan for. Bad things happen. You can hope for the best but preparing for the worst is a better approach. When an emergency arises, having an appropriate building to shelter in place may be essential to the safety of a facility’s people. From fires to toxic chemical leaks, natural disasters, and beyond, “shelter-in-place” buildings can provide a haven for those who need them. This blog will discuss who may need a shelter-in-place (SIP) building, what makes a good one, and why FORTRESS may be right for you.

What does it mean to “shelter in place,” and why can it be necessary?

In a disaster, evacuation may not always be the right thing to do. Exiting your location and moving to another may put you at greater risk than staying put, and, in some cases, remaining where you are might be the only option available. The phrase “shelter in place” is often used in situations like this and means what it says: to stay put. During these disasters, be they natural, industrial, or criminal (think terrorist or shooter), thorough plans and clear communication on how to implement these plans effectively are vital in ensuring damage is kept to a minimum. Much of what we’re discussing here refers to shelter-in-place (SIP) buildings designated for when a disaster strikes.

Illustration of a FORTRESS blast-resistant shelter providing protection with its shelter-in-place design

What makes fire and toxic hazards different from other potential hazards that may require a shelter-in-place plan?

Not all disasters are equal. While a designated plan to shelter in place, or “stay put”, may be effective in some cases, other events may require more infrastructure to shelter safely. Sometimes called “Stay Put and Seal Off Your Space” procedures, these plans often require an additional layer of safety to ensure the space you are sheltering in is sealed off from the outside to the extent possible. Some shelter-in-place buildings are built with these events in mind and come with the infrastructure to protect against these hazards.

Additionally, some facilities actively differentiate between shelter-in-place designs designated for different events. A weather shelter-in-place building, for instance, may simply be called a “shelter,” while buildings designed for facility hazards, such as fire or toxic chemical releases,  may be called “safe haven buildings” or something similar. And facilities at risk of extreme situations may go a step further, requiring their location to be equipped to purge, scrub, filter, or pressurize to mitigate potential toxic impacts. Many SIPs will not have these mitigations available, and if not appropriately designed, implementing these systems may be more dangerous than not having them at all. Considering a facility’s needs and potential hazards is crucial in coming up with a plan, which makes hiring a professional to aid in the design an essential component of the process.

Why might a FORTRESS Protective Building be right for you?

Facilities need to have an established emergency response plan in place. When disaster strikes, a clear, practical set of guidelines, whether the plan includes sheltering or evacuation, may be the difference between calm and chaos. Knowing what to do to keep everyone safe and communicating plans is essential to mitigating whatever damage may be done when the worst happens. A building with a shelter-in-place design may not be necessary for everyone. Every facility is different, and the needs of each facility are even more so. While a dedicated building for emergencies can be handy in all sorts of disasters, understanding the hazards of your facility will help determine the emergency response plans for each building. If a building that can effectively protect and mitigate the damage from potential threats like fire, toxins, or explosions sounds like something you need, a FORTRESS Protective Building may be right for you.

FORTRESS’s shelter-in-place design withstanding an extreme fire hazard in a testing environment

FORTRESS Protective Buildings are turnkey modular structures built to be multi-hazard-resistant buildings for maximum protection beyond that provided by a standard blast-resistant shelter. They are customizable and easy to install, and the multi-hazard-resistant qualities mean they are designed, top to bottom, to ensure your team and critical assets are protected during the most unforgiving conditions. If you are a facility at risk of blast, fire, and toxic hazards and you rely on your operators to bring the operations under control in the event of an upset, a building designed for handling disaster is a no-brainer. FORTRESS Protective Buildings provide the tools necessary to ensure lives are protected, and site damage and disruption are minimized.

As a facility thinks about the possibility of an event, plans to shelter in place will come up. Emergency response procedures are standard and important, and the effective navigation of these events is essential to success. Sometimes the needs are simple – evacuate when alerted of an event. However, if your facility is at risk of hazardous events, be they fire, natural, toxic, or otherwise, a shelter-in-place building may be necessary. And if it’s essential that the shelter-in-place design meets your unique needs, with multi-hazard protections in place, then FORTRESS may be right for you.

If you’re interested in ordering a FORTRESS Protective Building or learning more about what FORTRESS can do for you, contact us to discuss protective buildings for your needs!

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