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How to make and use an Air Quality Disaster Plan?

Updated on December 22, 2012
Are your lungs your air purifier?
Are your lungs your air purifier?

Why you need an Individual and/or Family Air Quality Disaster Plan

Recently, a chemical refinery in Richmond, CA was rocked by explosions. The ensuing fall out in the air was so toxic people within a close radius of the refinery were reporting respiratory problems and illness. Over 9000 people in the immediate area had to seek medical treatment. A shelter-in-place order impacted at least 165,000 people.

The era of technology and cars is also the era of dangerous refineries, large fires, and any number of pollution causing factories and businesses that can lead to a major air quality disaster. The reality is most people are unprepared to deal with them. They take it for granted that the businesses, CEOs, and government regulators will protect them from these disasters. But if you read the reports on the Richmond incident, you will learn that toxic leaks are a regular and inherent risk of refining oil and gas.

Yes, you can speak out and voice your concerns and make yourself heard with your vote. But don't bank on that protecting you. You need to put together an action plan to protect yourself in the event of an air quality disaster for the sake of you and your family's health.

Why a Shelter in Place Order is Insufficient Protection

A shelter in place order is typically a government instruction to the population of a particular area to stay indoors because of a serious air quality situation. A Shelter in Place order also means closing all your windows and doors and turning off the air circulation inside the home to reduce the possibility of the outside air getting inside. But a shelter in place order will reduce the risk of exposure, not eliminate it. Depending on how long the order stays in place, other concerns can arise from the lack of circulation and the stagnant air in the home. It simply not enough for a person or a family to depend on the government to tell you what to do. You need to have a plan in place long before an air quality disaster takes place or you will be at the mercy of bad air when it comes, and it will come.

What Can I do to Protect my family in an Air Quality Disaster?

The first step in good air quality disaster plan is to leave the toxic area until it is safe to return. But in some situations this is not possible. When this is not possible or advisable, the following steps should be part of a good plan.

A shelter in place order is really only the first step you should take during an air quality disaster. If the government orders one, that's great. In many countries, the government may order one long after the exposure happens. You can take the initiative to do it without the government's order. It is an excellent idea to close down all sources of outside air circulation into the home. But then there are some additions you should add as part of your plan. You should add:

  • Quality Air Purification: We recommend an Austin Air Purifier for excellent particle filtration and a Vollara Fresh Air Surround Air Purifier for excellent odor and gas purification.
  • Gas Masks for every person in your home: This provides extra protection in case the problem is worse than the air purification can keep up with.
  • Oxygen Tanks: If the air quality problem is prolonged, it could become necessary to have oxygen on hand to make sure everyone can breath properly.

Review Your Air Quality Disaster Plan Regularly

Having the plan is great, but you also need to make sure every able bodied person in your home knows what the plan is and how to implement it. This includes knowing how to put on the gas masks and how to use the oxygen tanks.

You also need to review the plan regularly and check the equipment regularly to make sure it is working properly. If you do these things, you will probably end up being the person people turn to in a disaster for help, because you are prepared and they were not.


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