In an emergency situation shelter space is crucial for people affected by natural hazards. Emergency planners in disaster relief and mass care can greatly benefit from a sound methodology that identifies suitable shelter areas and sites where shelter services need to be improved. A methodology to rank suitability of open spaces for contingency planning and placement of shelter in the immediate aftermath of a disaster is introduced. The Open Space Suitability Index uses the combination of two different measures: a qualitative evaluation criterion for the suitability and manageability of open spaces to be used as shelter sites and another quantitative criterion using a capacitated accessibility analysis based on network analysis. For the qualitative assessment implementation issues, environmental considerations and basic utility supply are the main categories to rank candidate shelter sites. A geographic information system is used to reveal spatial patterns of shelter demand. Advantages and limitations of this method are discussed on the basis of an earthquake hazard case study in the Kathmandu Metropolitan City. According to the results, out of 410 open spaces under investigation, 12.2%have to be considered not suitable (Category D and E) while 10.7% are Category A and 17.6% are Category B. Almost two-thirds (59.55 %) are fairly suitable (Category C).