Shelter Indoors



When the plume or smoke is passing over it is safer to stay indoors. After the plume or smoke has passed, it is safer to move outdoors.

Sheltering inside your home or a building in an emergency provides immediate protection from contaminated air outside. The fresh indoor air provides short term protection.

Over time some of the contaminated outdoor air will enter the building through small cracks, and eventually, after the plume or smoke has passed, the outdoor air may be cleaner than the indoor air. At this time it is safer to go outside.



  • Go inside immediately.
  • Take family and pets with you.
  • Avoid phone use. Emergency Services may need to contact you.


  • Close the doors and windows.
  • Close all external doors and windows. Seal gaps with blankets, towels or duct tape.
  • Turn off heaters, air conditioners and exhaust fans. Close fireplace dampers.


  • Listen to the radio for further information and additional instructions.
  • Listen to local ABC or any commercial radio station, turn on the television for media messages, or visit or
  • Wait for “all clear” message, then open doors and windows to ventilate building.
  • Go outside.

Display this information in your home or place of work. Discuss emergency procedures with family, neighbours and colleagues.

Although the chance of a significant chemical emergency is small, the possible health effects can be serious. Accidental releases can occur quickly and it’s important you know what to do.

What is a chemical emergency?

A chemical emergency can be caused by:

  • Residential or industrial fires
  • Chemical spills
  • Explosions
  • Transport accidents that pollute the air with chemicals or smoke.

What hazards are in your area?
Identify the locations of industry in your area, or where hazardous chemicals are stored.

What can I expect during a chemical emergency?

  • Hear: You may hear a siren/alarm, loud explosion, or fire trucks.
  • Smell: You may smell a strong chemical odour.
  • See: You may see a large fire or smoke.

How will I be warned of a chemical emergency?
Warning systems:

  • The fire services may contact you via a telephone message or the media with information on the incident and safety advice.
  • Some councils provide community information via their customer service and website.
  • Some industries sound sirens from their site during a major incident. This can only be used as a warning when industry has previously advised.
  • A warning will be issued on the MFB or CFA website: or


Emergency phone numbers
000 Fire Brigade, Police, and Ambulance

For emergency assistance only.
131 450 Interpreter Services
106 TTY

Other phone numbers
9695 2777 Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Pollution Watch Line
132 500 Victorian State Emergency Service (VICSES)

For storm damage and flood assistance
132 360 WorkSafe incident reporting