Emergency procedures

Police / Fire / Medical Emergency 911 / TDD 543-3323


The #1 priority in any emergency response is to protect your life and the lives of your co-workers.

Then all reasonable effort should be made to contact your supervisor to confirm you are OK and to receive further instructions.

Bomb threat / suspicious object

If you receive a bomb threat, please fill out the following Bomb Threat / Suspicious Object Form (pdf).

Building evacuation

How the alarm system works:

The fire alarm system consists of pull stations, smoke and duct dectectors, and a horn. When a device is activated, an alarm location identification code (to indicate which building) is sent to the UW Police Communications Center. The alarm pull station should be considered as a life safety system for use in any life threatening situation — fire, police, or medical emergency.

When an alarm sounds:

  • Evacuate the building immediately using the nearest exit (or an alternate if nearest exit is blocked). Do not use the elevators!
  • Proceed immediately to the evacuation assembly area designated in this building’s evacuation plan and on building evacuation signs.
  • Do not re-enter building until Seattle Fire Department, UWPD, or other safety officials declare the building to be safe.
  • Assist persons with disabilities.

During an earthquake, remain in the building until the tremor is over. Drop, cover, and hold. (See the emergency procedure for earthquakes)


Be prepared. In your work area, identify and review the safest places/most dangerous places, exists and alternative exists, location of flashlights and batteries, first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, food and water supplies, transistor radio. Make special provisions for persons with disabilities.

In the event of a major quake, be prepared to stay on campus overnight, and perhaps longer. You should not try to get home until campus authorities say it is safe, which will be when the worst fires are under control and streets are cleared for travel. This may happen quickly, or may take some time (72 hours or longer). Do not risk becoming a casualty by acting independently of emergency personnel.

During an earthquake

  • Drop under a desk or sturdy table. Stay away from windows, bookcases, file cabinets, heavy mirrors, hanging plants, and other objects that could fall.
  • Stay under cover until the shaking stops. Do not dash for exits since they may be damaged and the building’s exterior brick, tile, and decorations may be falling off.
  • Hold onto the desk or table. If it moves, move with it.
  • If you’re on a sidewalk near a tall building, get into a building’s doorway to protect yourself from falling bricks, glass, and other debris.
  • If you’re in a wheelchair, stay in it. Move to cover, if possible, lock your wheels, and protect your head with your arms.
  • If you’re driving, slowly pull over to the side of the road and stop. Avoid overpasses, power lines, and other hazards. Stay inside the vehicle until the shaking is over.

After an Earthquake

  • Be prepared for aftershocks, which may be weaker, but can cause damage to weakened structures.
  • Call 911 to report any injuries or emergencies such as a fire. Give first aid to only to the extent of your personal training and ability. Do not move injured persons unless they are in imminent danger.
  • Check for fires, don’t ignight matches or lighters.
  • Unplug or turn off computers and other office equipment.
  • Gather home and office keys and identification.
  • Evacuate the building. Gather at your designated assembly area.
  • Wait for instructions. Tune your radio to AM 710, the federally designated Emergency Alert System, and listen for information on what to do. Use telephone system only for urgent matters.


To report a fire:

  • If you discover a fire, activate the nearest fire alarm manual pull station, and then, from a safe location, call 9-911.

Fire procedures for occupants

  • When an alarm sounds on your floor, begin immediate evacuation. Close doors and windows behind you.
  • If you discover a fire, activate the nearest pull station and call 911. Then you may attempt to put it out if it is small (no larger than a waste basket). Do not attempt to extinguish a fire unless you have been trained to do so. If the fire is too large or you are uncomfortable or unfamiliar with the proper use of a fire extinguisher, simply close the door and evacuate.
  • If the fire alarm does not work, call 911 and notify all occupants verbally of the emergency and the need to evacuate.
  • Evacuate via the nearest stairwell or grade level exit. Do not block/wedge exit doors in an open position. The doors must remain closed to keep smoke out and keep them safe for evacuation and fire personnel. Leaving doors open makes the stairwells dangerous and unusable.

Hazardous materials / unknown odors / chemicals

All employees should be familiar with MSDS’s (Material Safety Data Sheets) for hazardous chemicals in their area. MSDS’s are available through the on-line laboratory Safety System (LSS), MSDS manuals at the shop/unit, and by contacting Environmental Health and Safety. Do not attempt to clean up hazardous materials spills if you are not training and equipped to do so. Call EH&S for advice; call 911 if an emergency.

Note: Employees may need to evacuate the building if their is an emergency involving hazardous materials. (See Building Evacuation)

Medical emergency

In the event of a serious accident or illness:

  • Call 911 and give the following information:
    • Your name
    • Name of building you are in, University of Washington campus
    • Floor and location of emergency
    • Any details known about the accident or illness
  • Provide first aid/CPR assistance only to the extent of your personal training and ability.
  • Do not move the injured or ill person unless it is necessary to avoid further injury, (e.g., fire, chemical spill, etc.).
  • Cover victim with a blanket or coat for warmth.
  • Reassure the victim that emergency assistance is on its way.
  • If the victim has been exposed to chemicals, their skin and eyes should be flushed with clean water for 15 minutes using a safety shower or eye wash, and the victim’s contaminated clothing should be removed. Always use the closest safety shower or eye wash, but make sure that it is in an area that prevents further chemical inhalation or other hazard.
  • Have someone meet the emergency personnel at the entrance to the building, in order to direct them to the exact location of the victim.

Power outage

Outages may occur at times of weather extremes or accompany various disasters. When the power is out, safety is a major concern. To prepare, assemble a power outage kit for your office or work area. Include glow light sticks, flashlights, a battery powered radio, a battery-operated clock, and extra batteries on hand.

  • Remain calm, provide assistance to others if necessary.
  • If you are in a darkened area, move cautiously to a lighted area. If the emergency power is operational, exists may be indicated by lighted signs.
  • Turn off and unplug computers and other voltage sensitive equipment to protect them against possible surges when power is restored.

Severe weather

During Normal Working Hours

Normal operations will continue unless notification to the contrary is provided to your supervisor.

After working hours/temporary closure or suspended operation of the University

Facilities staff should call 547-INFO or listen to local radio stations to determine if the University is open for operations. If the University is open, all Facilities employees should make a reasonable attempt to come to work.

Essential services staff are expected to report to work during any temporary closure of the University of Washington. Questions about these circumstances should be discussed with your supervisor. Since inclement weather conditions may change regular commuting routes, staff are expected to have alternate travel plans that will enable them to get to work during temporary closure weather conditions. (See the Facilities procedure for Inclement Weather/Suspended Operations (pdf)).

Threats / threatening behavior

The #1 priority is personal safety.

Suspicious person

  • Establish eye contact and ask if you can help him/her.
  • Do not physically confront the person.
  • Do not let anyone into locked building/office.
  • Do not block the person’s access to an exit.
  • Call 911
  • Keep a safe distance. Note the person’s direction of travel. Attempt to obtain as much information as possible such as: sex, age, weight, race, body type, hair color/style, clothing, shoes, jewelry, distinguishing marks, scars, tattoos.

Workplace Safety - General

  • Be sensitive to your work environment. Notice what is normal; notice if an abnormal condition occurs. Do not ignore threatening behavior. Report concerns (and any threats) to your supervisor/manager or to Personnel, or contact University Police for advice and assistance.
  • Do not tolerate verbal or physical harassment from anyone (ref. FS 94-06, UW Facilities Policy on Verbal/Physical Harassment).
  • Do not give out personal information about a co-worker (e.g., home address/telephone, current whereabouts)..
  • Report civil protection orders (“no contact” orders; “restraining” orders) to University Police.
  • Position yourself so that a visitor cannot block your access to an exit.