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Here's what to do when the police tell you to 'shelter in place'

During Emergency Preparedness Week, OPP explain how to respond to an emergency public safety alert
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If outside or driving when you hear a shelter in place warning, seek shelter in the nearest building, preferably in an interior room with few windows, police say / Stock image

During this week's Emergency Preparedness Week, the Ontario Provincial Police is reminding you of the steps to take during a public safety emergency alert.

The most common direction you will receive during an emergency alert is "to shelter in place," according to an OPP news release. Here's what to do:

  • Immediately move to a safe place where you can remain until further notice. The ideal location has few or no windows.
  • If outside or driving, seek shelter in the nearest building, preferably in an interior room with few windows.
  • Bring pets inside.
  • Lock doors, even in businesses.
  • Shut and lock all exterior doors and windows.
  • Avoid overcrowding by using several rooms if necessary.
  • Do not approach or engage the suspect if observed.
  • If you see the suspect, dial 911. (Do not call 911 for information or updates.)
  • Wait for and follow further instructions from local authorities.
  • Look after each other. You will be notified when it is safe to leave.

The OPP has created an educational video explaining shelter in place procedures.

If you receive a public safety (policing) emergency alert, stop and read the alert. For your own safety, immediately follow any instructions provided. Emergency alerts are character limited and as a result, additional information will be available in the link contained within the alert.

Information and instructions for public safety (policing) emergency situations can be found at


The OPP has delegated authority from the Solicitor General to issue two types of broadcast intrusive alerts: AMBER Alerts and public safety (policing) emergency alerts.

The OPP issues broadcast intrusive alerts via Alert Ready, Canada's emergency alerting system, on behalf of all police services in Ontario. Public safety (policing) emergency alerts are only issued when there is an ongoing, urgent and significant threat to life that is neither isolated nor contained.

The purpose of a public safety (policing) emergency alert is to provide critical and potentially life-saving information to the public.

While public safety emergency alerts and AMBER Alerts have some similarities, they also have notable differences:

  • Emergency alerts have very different criteria than AMBER Alerts. Each alert type has set criteria that govern when an alert can be issued.
  • Emergency alerts are geographically targeted. AMBER Alerts are issued province wide.
  • AMBER Alerts are issued in order to garner public engagement to help locate an abducted child that is at risk of serious bodily harm or death. Emergency alerts deliver critical and potentially life-saving information to the public.