Evacuation or Shelter in Place


In advance of an emergency, determine which exits are nearest to your location and the best route to follow.

If time permits during evacuation, secure your workplace and take personal items (e.g., car keys, CharlieCard, jacket).

In most emergencies, complete evacuation of the campus is not necessary. If, however, there is a major hazardous materials release, flood, or other MAJOR incident, it may be necessary to relocate personnel to a safer location.

Evacuation from a Building

  • Walk, do not run.
  • Do not use elevators.
  • If safe to do, assist persons with disabilities as indicated by that person, or direct to the nearest stairwell. Contact the University Police at 617-627- 6911 for assistance with location.
  • Expect that you may not be able to re-enter the building for hours or longer. If safe to do, collect essential items such as your car keys, wallet or purse, critical medication such as an inhaler, and outerwear appropriate for the weather and season.
  • Assemble outside at a designated Area of Gathering. Supervisor should consider conducting an accountability check to determine if all staff members have exited the building.
  • If you cannot return to your building, wait for instructions from the University Police or another emergency agency in charge.

On-Campus Area of Gathering

Signs indicating the Area of Gathering are posted in the lobby of each building and residence hall. In the event of a building or area evacuation, go to the posted Area of Gathering or as directed by emergency response officials.

Shelter in Place

In some instances, it may be safer to “shelter in place” than to leave a building—for instance, if smoke or fire is immediately outside your room, live electrical wires obstruct access to the exit, individuals with mobility disabilities are above or below ground floors, or if the hazard causes the elevators to become inoperative (fire alarms sounding). In some cases, authorities may direct you to shelter in place instead of evacuating. Shelter in place procedures vary depending on the type of hazard.

Fire or Smoke and You Cannot Evacuate

  • If safe to do so, go to the nearest stairwell and tell someone who is evacuating to notify emergency personnel of your location and that you are unable to evacuate the building.
  • Call 617-627-6911 and tell them your name, your location, that you are unable to evacuate, and why you are unable to evacuate the building. Follow directions of the emergency call-taker.
  • Review the Fire Safety section of this guide.

Airborne Chemical Hazard from the Outside

  • Close all outside doors and windows.
  • If safe to do so, turn off A/C and air handling systems.
  • Move away from outside windows and doors, as well as air ducts and ventilation systems.

Violent Criminal Action

  • Lock and barricade doors.
  • Move away from outside doors and windows.
  • Close window shades and turn off lights.
  • If there are injured persons, or you have information about the assailant(s), call the University Police at 617-627-6911.
  • Review the Active Shooter section of this guide.

Severe Weather Incident

  • Move away from outside windows and doors, as well as large glass objects.
  • Avoid being underneath heavier objects that may fall.
  • Help direct disabled people to a safe place, if necessary.
  • Review the Natural Disasters section of this guide.