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#190687 - 12/13/09 01:26 AM Protecting home air quality
dweste Offline

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 2463
Loc: Central California
Bugging-in makes sense in a lot of cases and can be ordered by the authorities in some, for example, chemical spills, chemical fires, or gass or biological attacks.

What is reasonable to do for your home air quality to enhance your ability to survive such bug-ins without serious consequence?

#190712 - 12/13/09 05:13 AM Re: Protecting home air quality [Re: dweste]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7705
Loc: southern Cal
We might remember that a few years ago the advice from FEMA was plastic sheeting and duct tape. They apparently cribbed this strategy from the American Red Cross First Aid and Safety Handbook, 1992 edition, p. 255.

"If you are told by local officials to "shelter in place" rather than evacuate, immediately to inside and seal off your home. Close all windows and doors, turn off the heat or air conditioning, turn off any fans, close any ducts or outside vents (including those to the dryer and stove), and close the fireplace damper. If there is danger of explosion, close the window shades and curtains, then stay away from the windows.

Next, grab your emergency supplies (see page 254) and go at once to the room with the fewest windows and doors (but avoid the basement, where toxic fumes may settle). Once you are inside this room, seal all gaps....with thick tape or wet towels. A wet cloth over your nose and mouth will help filter out dangerous chemicals. Listen to the radio for updates, and stay inside until you are notified that it is safe to leave."

Err, right......

N95 masks might be useful if particulates are the problem. Respirators may be useful, if you have the correct canisters for the particular hazard. Obviously, avoiding physical exertion and exercise is a good idea.

Actually, I practice a mild form of these procedures whenever air quality degrades in my area - usually the degraded air quality is due to particulates (often from our forest fires). I curtail my bike ride, perhaps substituting an abbreviated ride indoors on my stationary bike early in the day, restrict outdoor activity, and (sometimes)wear an N95 mask. The N95 looks really, really dorky, but I have only one set of lungs, and they have been abused enough.

If I have any option, the prospect of bad air quality is a good inducement to flee in the first place. Depending upon circumstances, it might be time to bug out if you had first decided to shelter.

Edited by hikermor (12/13/09 05:27 AM)
Geezer in Chief

#190723 - 12/13/09 02:00 PM Re: Protecting home air quality [Re: hikermor]
dweste Offline

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 2463
Loc: Central California
Filters? Positive-pressure? Re-breathing? Chemical absorbers? Plants to absorb CO2? Stuff to take / eat to avoid effects of chemicals, radiation, etcetera? Monitors?

Any real world help / solutions?

Edited by dweste (12/13/09 02:01 PM)

#190731 - 12/13/09 04:43 PM Re: Protecting home air quality [Re: dweste]
wildman800 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/09/06
Posts: 2845
Loc: La-USA
Look at the posts that I've made about my Nuclear Shelter.

I described what was needed to maintain positive pressure and removal of CO2. I keep 2 bottles of Potasium Iodide to protect the thyroid.

I keep several types of antibiotics on hand to help with Biological Warfare.
The best luck is what you make yourself!

#190747 - 12/13/09 09:26 PM Re: Protecting home air quality [Re: dweste]
philip Offline

Registered: 09/19/05
Posts: 639
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area
"shelter in place"
gets lots of hits. I live in an area with refineries, and there have been several shelter in place warnings over the years. Here are a few links to shelter in place Web sites:

These links trigger the download of .pdf files:

I note that the Utah guides are in response to the potential for leaks from a military stockpile of chemical agents, so this page
might be of interest for those who are concerned about WMD whether by accident or intent.

My general recollection from our CERT training is that if you're in a shelter in place situation, you're better off selecting an interior room and sealing it rather than trying to seal windows and door of the whole house, along with all the HVAC ducts. We have a large walk-in closet that I'd choose - no ducts, one door, one light. (I have a bottle of Jack Daniels in there, along with a flashlight.)

#190761 - 12/14/09 12:35 AM Re: Protecting home air quality [Re: dweste]
Art_in_FL Offline

Registered: 09/01/07
Posts: 2432
Originally Posted By: dweste
Filters? Positive-pressure? Re-breathing? Chemical absorbers? Plants to absorb CO2? Stuff to take / eat to avoid effects of chemicals, radiation, etcetera? Monitors? Any real world help / solutions?

In most cases, for most people, outside of the relative few who are at ground zero, none of those things are strictly necessary. Hazardous materials tend to disperse below hazardous levels or fall out of the the air fairly quickly. In WW1, with thousands of tons of chemical agents used in a single attack unprotected people a few hundred meters away were often safe. People who were a few thousand meters away from the nuclear attack at Nagasaki were fairly safe.

Near ground zero in such events you might benefit greatly from an elaborate, million dollar, shelter that recreates the life support system of a space capsule. Assuming everything works exactly right it might save you. Failure of any of a hundred details could be fatal. Far more cost effective and reliable to avoid being at ground zero when the time comes. In the end some people cannot be cost-effectively saved.

One defense contractor came up with plans to build a shelter a quarter-mile underground. It was designed to survive a 50 MT nuclear blast directly on top of it. Sounded good until someone figured out that it would be covered with a layer of highly radioactive glass several hundred feet thick. That the people inside would need to stay inside for months before digging out, or hiking out over the radioactive hole, would make sense. The contractors volunteered that such issues could be accommodated. For the right amount of money of course.

The good news is that except for the unlucky small fraction of humanity too close to ground zero during a chemical, biological or nuclear event much less elaborate methods and shelters work quite well. As much as the conspiracy theorists like to say that plastic sheeting and duct tape are useless, just a way to make it easier to pick up the bodies, the fact is it works in large number of situations for anyone outside a critical distance.

#190862 - 12/15/09 03:17 AM Re: Protecting home air quality [Re: Art_in_FL]
Arney Offline

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Art_in_FL
The good news is that except for the unlucky small fraction of humanity too close to ground zero during a chemical, biological or nuclear event much less elaborate methods and shelters work quite well.

I'd agree with this general statement, too. Even when speaking about arguably one of the most toxic substances--plutonium from a dirty bomb--most of us would not be terribly at risk of dying. I elaborated on this particular threat a couple years ago here . (Unfortunately, one of the informative links in that post is now out-of-date) Actually, I had made a mental note to myself back then that if a dirty bomb went off in my vicinity, I would prefer to stay indoors (like at work) rather than trying to get out of Dodge in the minutes or hours immediately after, when the concentrations of plutonium suspended in the air outside would be highest. You'd be far more likely to die in a car accident with everyone else trying to make a mad dash to safety at the same time than from the plutonium.

#190958 - 12/15/09 11:45 PM Re: Protecting home air quality [Re: NightHiker]
JohnN Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 10/10/01
Posts: 966
Loc: Seattle, WA
For those with central air, note that I think you can get HEPA filters. While not a total solution, or a solution that works in all cases, HEPA filters are much better than the "filters" included in most systems.


#192419 - 01/02/10 04:53 AM Re: Protecting home air quality [Re: JohnN]
Skimo Offline

Registered: 11/28/09
Posts: 41
Loc: Tinker AFB Oklahoma, USA
If I had the money.. if only!

positive pressure with oxygen&helium mix with rebreather apparatus.

Vault style welded up safe room/shelter sealed doors, one way ventilation.

As it is, air off, duct taped window, duct taped door.

J. Anderson
Kniferights charter member #606 - how about you

#192429 - 01/02/10 01:01 PM Re: Protecting home air quality [Re: Skimo]
Pete Offline

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1372
So what's the concern here ... is it a potential disaster such as a chemical emergency, radioactive leak (e.g. dirty bomb), or a possible biological threat?

other Pete

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