What’s the Difference Between "Lockdown" and "Shelter in Place"?

With a new “event” occurring all too frequently in the news, a lot of the terms seem to get confusing. If you have children, they need to now do “lockdown drills” in school. What is a lockdown? What does it mean to shelter in place? What’s the difference between the two? Well, here’s the official word on the subject.


1. LOCKDOWNS: A lockdown occurs when occupants of the facility are directed to remain confined to a room/area with specific procedures to follow regarding locking of doors, closing of windows/shades, seeking cover, etc. This procedure is implemented when a criminal element is believed to be on the premises and officials expect that these measures will minimize risk exposure of the occupants to the criminal element. Lockdowns necessitate a law enforcement response and immediate intervention. While responsibility for determining a school district policy regarding lockdown rests primarily with that school district, both the school officials and the law enforcement officials are strongly encouraged to confer with one another when drafting their respective policies. This will help ensure safe and efficient handling of school lockdown events.

2. SHELTER IN PLACE: Sheltering in place is similar to lockdown in that the occupants are to remain on the premises, but may require that they be moved to a different part of the facility due to an environmental event taking place outside of the facility, for example the release of a chemical cloud from a nearby plant. To evacuate the occupants may put them at greater risk then sheltering them within the facility. However, it may be prudent to move all of the occupants to another part of the facility to further minimize the risk of exposure.

Due to the increase of these type of events in schools, many schools throughout the country are now equipping their classrooms with Classroom Lockdown kits. These kits are to prepare and provide for the students in just this type of situation. They supply emergency food, water and sanitation basics.