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Emergency Preparedness Information

Shelter in Place: Know How, Know Where from UT Dallas.


Whether you are on campus, at home or elsewhere, there may be situations when it's simply best to stay where you are and avoid any uncertainty outside. During specified emergency situations, particularly chemical, biological or radioactive material releases, some weather emergencies, or the threat of imminent danger, you may be directed to "Shelter in Place" rather than evacuate the building.

Depending on the type of emergency situation, directions to shelter in place may be sent using a variety of communication tools, including: cell phones, campus telephones, television monitors, Outdoor Warning System, or campus Building SAFE Leaders and Floor Monitors.

If directed to shelter in place:

  • Stay inside the building and find a safe place.
  • If you are in a room with a door, make sure the door is closed.
  • Due to the varying age of campus buildings, doors may lock manually, remotely or not at all. If applicable and time permits, lock doors.
  • If you are in a room with a window, make sure the window is closed.

Remain where you are until further direction from emergency personnel is given.


There are other circumstances when staying put and creating a barrier between yourself and potentially contaminated air outside is a matter of survival. This process is known as "sealing the room" while Sheltering in Place. Use available information to assess the situation. If you see large amounts of debris in the air, or if campus authorities say the air is badly contaminated, you may want to take this kind of action.

The process used to seal the room is considered a temporary protective measure to create a barrier between you and potentially contaminated air outside. This is a type of sheltering in place that requires pre-planning.

To "Seal the Room"

  • Lock doors, close windows, air vents and fireplace dampers.
  • Turn off fans, air conditioning and forced air heating systems.
  • Take your emergency supply kit unless you have reason to believe it has been contaminated.
  • Go into an interior room with few windows, if possible.
  • Seal all windows, doors and air vents with plastic sheeting and duct tape. Consider measuring and cutting the sheeting in advance to save time.
  • Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to seal gaps so that you create a barrier between yourself and any contamination.
  • Campus authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.

Shelter Procedures

Updated: September 24, 2014