I don’t remember the first time I heard the term “shelter-in-place.” Like many expressions that come out of nowhere and get repeated ad nauseum, turning into clichés, shelter-in-place probably entered my consciousness from the local nightly news. Until the coronavirus began to dominate TV news coverage, reporters in my area, which covers San Francisco and its sprawling suburbs, focused on grizzly car accidents, house fires, and of course, shootings. From time to time, a shooter would be pursued, and residents warned to shelter-in-place.
The term has been used more frequently in the past two decades with the rise in school shootings. Students practice active shooter drills, in which they shelter-in-place until first responders arrive and the danger has passed.