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Environmental Health & Safety

Emergency Management

Coronavirus Information:

To report an emergency, call Public Safety:

  • Pick up a Blue Light emergency phone.
  • Dial 13 from any other University phone.
  • From a cell phone or other non-University phone, dial 275-3333.
  • Dial #413 from AT&T/Cingular or Verizon cell phones.

Be prepared: What should you do?

(Click a button below)

icon reads FIRE icon reads HAZMAT icon reads SHELTER IN PLACE AND LOCKDOWN icon reads POWER FAILURE

Emergency Management activities include mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery related to any kind of disaster, whether natural, technological or national security. Emergency management means being prepared for all kinds of emergencies, able to respond in time of crisis to save lives and property, to recover from the event in the shortest amount of time and to help the University, the community - or even a nation - return to normal life after a disaster occurs.

  • Chief Safety Officer / AVP for EH&S - Mike Liberty, CSP, CIH
  • Emergency Preparedness Manager - Tom Saunders
  • Assistant for Emergency Preparedness - Marisa Meisenzahl


Active shooter

RUN when an active shooter is in your vicinity:

  • If possible, evacuate whether others agree to or not.
  • Leave belongings.
  • Help others escape if possible.
  • Warn others from entering area.
  • When safe call Public Safety at X13 or 911.

HIDE if evacuation is not possible. Find a place to hide:

  • Lock and/or blockade the door.
  • Silence your cell phone/pager/radio/TV/computer.
  • Hide behind solid objects.
  • Remain very quiet.

FIGHT as a last resort and only if your life is in danger.

Run, Hide, Fight Video - for active shooter


Medical emergency

  • Check victim and determine medical needs.
  • Call Public Safety at X13 or 275-3333.
  • Provide care if trained; if not, provide assurance but do not move patient.

Severe weather

  • During a Winter Storm:
    • Follow your departmental policy. Check University homepage or email for information.
  • During a Tornado:
    • Stay away from windows.
    • Stay near inside walls when possible.
    • Listen to the latest National Weather Service warnings and or call UR Information Line at 275-6111. Check University homepage.

Winter Watch ( Check the conditions of University roadways and parking lots.

Policy (

It is the policy of the University of Rochester to remain in operation and to continue regular services and schedules regardless of adverse weather conditions. Exceptions to the policy may be made on a case-by-case basis and can include decisions to reduce services and/or staff levels.


Cancel or Curtailment decisions: The decision to cancel or curtail services at the University is made by the President and the Provost with the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences and the Executive Vice President for Administration and Finance.  The abovementioned group, whenever possible when making the decision to cancel daytime classes/events should be communicated to the Office of University Communications by 5:30 AM to insure timely announcement before 8 AM classes. If possible, the decision to cancel evening classes/events should be made by 2 PM.  If significantly worsening weather conditions occur after classes/events have begun for the day, decisions concerning early curtailment of University operations will be made by officials at least 2 hours in advance of the canceling or curtailment, whenever possible.

Non-essential: Staff on duty when the decision has been made to implement the cancellation or curtailment decision, and who in the judgment of their department heads are performing non-critical services, will be offered the option to go home early. The Vice President for Communications or designate will serve as liaison for communication purposes.

Essential staff:  If it is decided some cancellation or curtailment is in order, the objective of the University is to continue certain services with as normal a staff level as possible.  In general, those services are defined as those of the Medical Center (inclusive of ambulatory practices), Public Safety; Dining; Housing; and Facilities Services as determined by the Associate Vice President for University Facilities and Services.  Personnel in those areas are deemed to be “essential staff”.  (Other staff may be designated as “essential” by their supervisor(s). Refer to HR Policy 115.)

Personal safety: The University will take all reasonable steps to ensure a safe environment. If an individual feels it is unsafe to travel to class or work, he/she should not travel, regardless of whether classes/events are canceled. The University asks students to make an effort to notify professors/instructors of their planned absence, and for employees, to notify their supervisor of their intention to use PTO or vacation credits as appropriate.

Weather Assessments: Weather reports are monitored continuously by designated University officials at all times. Assessments involve the severity of the weather conditions, the National Weather Service prediction of weather outcome, expected duration of the storm, vehicle travel conditions both on campus and municipal roads, conditions on sidewalks and parking lots.

Division, School or Department Procedure

Each Division, School, Academic Department or Administrative unit that decides to curtail, cancel or close their operation must request approval from their immediate supervisor (VP, Provost, Dean or President) prior to implementation. Each Division/School/Department should have its own approved policy on curtailment, cancellation or closing, include a communication plan.


University-wide:  The Office of University Communications will be responsible for initiating broad-scale announcements about curtailments or closings as soon as possible:
a) through e-mail notifications throughout the University;
b) on the University of Rochester Information Line at 275-6111; and
c) in some situations, on the University’s Web home page ( 
Offices that need a change in the announcements on the University of Rochester Information Line should request it through the Spokesperson in the Office of University Communications (281-9495).

Initiating communication:  Communication regarding cancellation or curtailment-of-services decisions or emergency responses will be initiated by the decision-makers noted above.  It is expected notifications will be made through normal reporting channels to the deans or directors of the various divisions (for instance, Eastman School of Music; School of Medicine and Dentistry; Arts, Sciences and Engineering; River Campus Libraries; Simon School, Warner School, Memorial Art Gallery, Laboratory for Laser Energetics) and then through their offices to all faculty, staff, and student members of those respective University communities.  Notification also will be made to the directors of Central Administration departments for further dissemination to those respective staff.

Divisional and central departmental communication plans:  Each division is expected to have in place a procedure for communicating with its departments and with its faculty, staff, and students.  In addition, each school or academic department or administrative unit, whether or not it is likely to remain open during curtailment of services, should have a plan for communicating any changes or important messages to members of that department.  This plan should include a designated “communicator” with whom the department’s faculty/staff/students should be in contact to give and receive instructions.

ClassesIndividual class cancellations do not require broadcast across the University. Faculty members should make note to their classes that under almost all circumstances classes will meet as scheduled as defined in the course syllabus. Faculty members needing to cancel their own classes should notify their department Administrator/Chair. If there is a question about a particular class, the departmental office should be contacted.

Programs, Activities, or Campus Events: In case of inclement weather that does not warrant cancellation of an activity/program, the faculty/staff member in charge of the activity/program will contact Facilities Customer Service Center (273-4567) to ensure the Grounds Department clears appropriate lots and sidewalks.

For weekend events or activities, if a decision is made before the end of the workday on Friday to cancel a weekend activity/program, advise the Office of University Communications to communicate the cancellation. If the decision is made on Saturday or Sunday, the faculty/staff member in charge should attempt to contact the organizer or participants individually to announce the cancellation and post building notices, if possible.

For SMH:  The SMH Department Heads and Supervisors e-mail list will be used to advise department heads of the implementation plan during working hours, and the Emergency Preparedness call list will be used for off hours (See SMH CEMP Procedure 3.4.2 Action Call List).  Department Heads will be responsible for making sure essential personnel are advised of the plan’s implementation.

There will be occasions when weather conditions, although not severe enough for implementation of the entire plan, could warrant partial implementation of the plan depending on specific circumstances. Such circumstances might be, the event impacted a local geographical location, or will not permit staff who live long distances to make it to work or make it home from work, or live in areas that are prone to more severe weather conditions. 


Bomb threat or suspicious package

  • Obtain as much information as possible.
  • Call Public Safety at X13 or 275-3333.
  • Give nature and location of threat.
  • Notify the available supervisory person in the area.
  • Notify NO ONE ELSE unless there is an obvious, immediate danger to personnel.
  • If threat is written, handle the written note as little as possible. Preserve the written threat and give it to Public Safety.
  • If authorized to evacuate, move 300 feet away from the building.


When dealing with a fire, use the RACE acronym to remember how to proceed:

  • Relocate or rescue anyone in immediate danger.
  • Activate the fire alarm. Call Public Safety at X13 or 275-3333.
  • Confine the fire by closing all doors in the area.
  • Extinguish fire if small and if the user is trained, otherwise evacuate.


  • Major chemical spills
    • Alert people in the area to evacuate.
    • Attend to injured or contaminated persons and remove them from exposure.
    • Turn off ignition and heat sources if spilled material is flammable.
    • Call Public Safety at X13 or 275-3333 from a safe area.
    • Have knowledgeable person assist emergency personnel.
  • Radiological spills
    • Alert people in the area to evacuate.
    • Call Public Safety at X13 or 275-3333 from a safe area.
    • Attend to the injured or contaminated persons and remove them from spill area. Have potentially contaminated personnel stay in one area until they have been monitored and shown free of contamination. Minimize your movements to prevent spread of contaminations.
    • Confine the affected area by closing doors, putting up barriers and/or guarding entrances.
    • Have knowledgeable person area assist emergency personnel.
  • Biological spills (e.g. blood, vomit)
    • Only staff with appropriate personal protective equipment should contain spill with absorbent material.
    • Place the material into a red bag for disposal.
    • Disinfect the surface and/or area.

Shelter–in–Place or lock down

Shelter-in-Place Directive: Usual threat is a hazardous condition or weather. Go indoors, close and secure doors and windows. Take cover from flying glass and avoid windows. Requires the occupants to remain in the building and will be used when evacuation may put you at greater risk (For example, tornado warning, active shooter, accident near building/campus involving hazardous materials release).

  • Remain in the building until further direction is received from Public Safety.
  • Bring everyone inside—interior room(s) with no or few windows—and take refuge there.
  • Close windows and doors.
  • Turn off ventilation -- fans, air conditioners and heating.
  • Wait for an “all safe message,” or you are told to evacuate.

Lock down Directive: Usual threat is an intruder. Restrict access to your location; lock doors and windows and barricade entrances. Hide from view and silence your cell phone/pager/radio/TV/computer. Cover yourself with anything capable of stopping or deflecting a bullet or flying debris. This procedure is implemented to minimize exposure to a criminal situation, such as an active shooter. People must stay where they are and may not exit or enter a classroom, residence hall, office space, or the building. If people are in a hallway, they must go into the nearest room.

  • Remain calm and immediately cease all activity.
  • Lock and/or barricade the room and remain inside until advised that it is safe to leave.
  • Stay away from doors and windows.
  • If possible, cover any windows or openings that have a direct line of sight into a hallway.
  • Shut the blinds or pull the shades down. Turn off the lights and try to give the impression that the room is empty.
  • Do not let unauthorized persons into the building.
  • Use furniture or desks as cover.
  • Remain quiet and silence cell phones.
  • If the fire alarm sounds, stay where you are unless you smell smoke or are advised to leave by emergency services personnel or Public Safety.
  • DO NOT respond to anyone at the door until an "all clear" message is received via campus notification system (AlertUR) or if you are certain it is safe to do so (i.e. if police are at the door). Do not enter the hallways unless directed by police to leave your secured area.

Power outage or utility failure

  • Notify University Customer Service Center x3-4567 on the type of failure.
  • For smell of natural gas or if you hear a load hissing or high pitch noise, immediately evacuate the area. DO NOT use anything that could create a spark.
  • In laboratory areas, if possible secure all experiments prior to evacuating. Open windows if it will be beneficial in ventilating the area.
  • Do not use candles or other open flames for lighting. Have operable flashlight available.

Data and telephone network failure

  • Notify University Help Desk x5-2000 or Medical Center x5-3200 describing the system affected.
  • If the campus phone system is down use wireless phones, or in patient care areas the red phone jacks.
  • Use alternate communication methods such as email, instant messaging, Twitter, Facebook or SMS text.

Contact Environmental Health & Safety Office at (585) 275-3243 or e-mail EH&S Questions.

Last modified: 4/1/2024. Disclaimer.