Evacuation and Shelter in Place

Different types of emergencies require different types of responses. It’s important to understand the terminology used by first responders and what they mean:


Evacuation means to leave the space where you are presently located. Orders to evacuate may include a building, an area, a complex or, in rare cases, the entire campus.

When there’s an order to evacuate the building or a fire alarm is sounding:

  • Leave the building via the closest exit. Always know at least two exits out of a building in case one is obstructed.
  • Close doors behind you, but take keys in case you need to turn around and return to your office or room.
  • Once outside,
    • Proceed to the designated assembly area for your building (if only one building is involved) and await further information and instructions.
    • Proceed off campus (if the order is to evacuate the campus) either on foot or by vehicle, depending on the evacuation order.

Shelter In Place

Shelter In Place refers to a situation in which the appropriate response is to stay where you are located to protect against a hazard. Sheltering in place may be appropriate in active threat scenarios, chemical releases or spills, and severe weather.

In general, when there’s an order to shelter in place:

  • Stay inside the building.
  • Shut and lock all windows and doors. The Department of Public Safety will lock exterior doors with card access from the Emergency Operations Center at 200 Elm Drive.
  • Know and follow additional procedures, depending on the situation.
  • Wait for an “all clear” to exit the room or building.

Additional procedures may be necessary depending on the emergency:

Active Shooter
Chemical Spill

Gas Leak
Severe Weather

Keep in mind that emergencies in which the initial instructions were to shelter in place may change and evacuation may become necessary. The reverse situation (evacuation becomes shelter in place) may also occur.