(click on question to view answers)

A Shelter in Place means selecting an interior place within the facility, preferably with no or few windows, and taking refuge.

During certain emergency situations, particularly chemical, biological or radioactive material releases, some weather emergencies, or the threat of imminent danger, you may be directed to Shelter in Place rather than evacuate the building.

If directed to shelter in place:

  • Stay inside the building or find a safe place.
  • Take emergency supplies with you.
  • Remain where you are until further direction from emergency personnel.
  • Encourage everyone present to remain with you.
  • If you are in a room with a door, make sure the door is closed. If applicable and time permits, lock the doors.
  • Close all windows, shades and air vents.
  • Unless there is an imminent threat have those able to do so contact their family/loved ones to let them know they are safe. 

 For chemical, biological or radioactive material releases, additional directions will be given.

A Lockdown is an emergency protocol to prevent people escaping. It is used to protect people inside a facility from a dangerous event. A full lockdown means that people must stay where they are and may not exit or enter a classroom, apartment unit, store unit, an office space, condo unit or to enter or exit the building. If people are in a hallway they must go into the nearest classroom, apartment unit, condo unit, office space or store unit. Note: Areas not suitable to seek refuge are those with large glass walls or doors.

If directed to lockdown:

  • Lock and barricade doors
  • Turn off lights
  • Close blinds
  • Block windows
  • Turn off radios and computer monitors
  • Do not sound the fire alarm. People trying to evacuate could be placed in harm's way
  • Remain calm, quiet, and out of sight
  • Take adequate cover/protection i.e. concrete walls, thick desks, filing cabinets (cover may protect you from bullets)
  • Silence cell phones
  • Place signs in exterior windows to identify the location of injured persons

A severe condition for the area would be declared by federal, state or local authorities and would include more than just the University. Community members are expected to follow the instructions issued by the authorities. Should this occur the best advice is to monitor local radio or television and check the University home page for new information

The University has a variety of methods of communicating with the campus community, including the ability to deploy University Police vehicles, which are equipped with sirens and public address systems that should the necessity arise, can broadcast instructions.

Other means of communication include: the University web site, Admin. General e-mail, mass e-mail, text messaging, and the Berbee telephone system. Messages can be posted throughout campus over the information clocks.

Unless an emergency clearly is in the immediate vicinity (in which case, follow the instructions of safety officials or evacuate the area), the best approach would be to seek information/instructions from the nearest source – generally the nearest University building.

Making a decision about whether to evacuate or shelter in place depends entirely on the emergency at hand. It is important for everyone to be prepared in advance by reviewing the information listed in Emergency Preparedness, as well as federal agencies such as Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Fire or other building emergencies are far more likely than terrorism. In the event of a fire, unless you are advised otherwise, you should evacuate the building, go to the designated assembly area and await instructions from the Building Manager, University Police or the local first responders. As with all emergencies, listen carefully to all public announcements.

Review the Emergency Preparedness guidelines, check the University home page frequently for updates and consider keeping comfort items readily available – in the unlikely event that roads are impassable or that sheltering in place for a prolonged period of time becomes necessary.


If you have further questions, or would like to suggest an additional topic for this FAQ, please e-mail a University Police representative.