Shelter-in-Place Policy

Published By
Health Impact Project

Shelter-in-place policies aim to support residents’ ability to remain in their homes after an earthquake or other major disaster. The San Francisco Department of Public Health conducted an HIA to analyze the city and county’s capacity to support these policies if such an event occurred, and highlighted areas that warrant further attention to better protect residents. The HIA used the San Francisco Community Resilience Indicator System to assess neighborhood conditions, and interviews with city emergency management officials were used to evaluate the potential effectiveness of the policy. The HIA found that the plans, strategies, and policies could be improved. It offered 10 recommendations to inform future strategies , including centralizing emergency planning documentation, creating additional public outreach materials that explain how to avoid long-term health hazards after a disaster, and improving interagency coordination for all elements of disaster mitigation and response. These strategies will ensure that the city is better able to protect residents after a major disaster, especially vulnerable populations.

This report was in part made possible through funding from a cooperative agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


The HIA raised awareness for and institutionalized San Francisco’s shelter-in-place policy and supported disaster planning efforts. The policy is now a focal point of Resilient San Francisco, a strategy to bolster the city’s disaster resilience.


This Health Impact Assessment Report first appeared in The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health. The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health was originally developed by the Health Impact Project, formerly a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The creation of this resource was supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Pew Charitable Trusts, or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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