Shelter in Place

The purpose of the shelter in place procedure is to ensure that all building occupants are able to relocate to a safe area within the building without delay in the event of dangerous incidents.


Sudden occurrences such as tornadoes, severe winter storms, hazardous material accidents or other dangerous incidents may dictate sheltering in place as the best response. Different shelter in place scenarios require different actions.

Shelter in Place Procedure for a Tornado or Severe Windstorm

Once directed to shelter in place for a tornado or severe windstorm, all building occupants shall

  • Take shelter in a small interior floor room, closet or hallway (on the ground floor, if possible).
  • Stay away from outside walls, windows and doors.
  • Not use elevators.
  • Avoid large rooms, if possible.
  • Stay close to the ground and protect your head from flying objects.
  • Remain at safe location until advised it is safe to return to work or study area or to leave the building.
  • Not go outside to survey the damage. A second tornado sometimes strikes the same area after the first one has moved through.

If you do not have a safe area in your building and do not have time to get to another suitable building

  • Get under a piece of sturdy furniture, such as a workbench, heavy table, or desk and hold on to it.
  • Use arms to protect head and neck.

If outdoors

  • If shelter is not available or there is no time to get indoors, lie in a ditch or low-lying area or crouch near a strong building. Be aware of the potential for flooding.
  • Use arms to protect head and neck.

Shelter in Place Procedure for Hazardous Materials Release

Once directed to shelter in place for a hazardous materials release, all university community members shall Take direction from any municipal emergency agency, Campus Security, Emergency Wardens or First Responders (wearing red vests) as to the appropriate actions. Generally, these directions will be:

  • go indoors and stay there until directed differently.
  • turn off anything that moves air (Campus Infrastructure will turn off the air intake to the buildings).
  • await further instructions