Think Ahead

On Campus Preparedness

Building Evacuation and Shelter in Place 

Preparedness for Stanford Community Members with Disabilities

Emergencies can happen at any time and without warning.  Stanford community members with disabilities should prepare for emergencies by developing a personal emergency evacuation plan.  At Stanford, supervisors, managers and emergency coordinators must take into consideration those with special needs when preparing building evacuation plans.

The best information to prepare for emergencies and to develop a personal building evacuation plan is found on the Stanford Diversity and Access Office website Emergency Evacuation Planning page.  Download the Guide for Assisting Individuals with Disabilities in an Emergency and the Guide for Individuals with Disabilities in an Emergency.

In most emergencies, there are two basic responses: “evacuate” and “shelter-in-place.” Evacuate a building when it is more dangerous to remain where you are than it is to get out and move outdoors or to another space of greater safety. Evacuation is appropriate for all fire alarms, major chemical spills and large earthquakes.

Shelter-in-place when it is more dangerous outside and it is safer to protect yourself in an interior space. Shelter-in-Place is appropriate for active threat situations, major chemical releases or atmospheric conditions such as high smoke or unhealthy air.

Building Evacuation Instructions

  • Leave immediately when you hear the building fire alarm or are instructed to do so by authorities.
  • Alert others around you, and those you see on your way out, to evacuate.
  • Close doors behind you to limit the movement of smoke, flames or noxious odors, but do not lock them.
  • Assist those who may need help (like individuals with disabilities), but do not put yourself at risk.
  • If time permits, shut down laboratory operations that could create additional hazards if left unattended.
  • Walk calmly but quickly to the nearest emergency exit.
  • Use stairways only. Do NOT use elevators.
  • Go directly to your designated Emergency Assembly Point (EAP) to check-in. Note the location of trapped or injured victims and notify emergency responders. Report the presence of any internal hazards or potentially hazardous conditions.
  • Do not re-enter the building under any circumstances until authorized officials give the “All Clear” instruction.

In an emergency evacuation, try to notice if anyone needs assistance. Without endangering yourself, help others during a building evacuation and on the way to the Emergency Assembly Point (EAP).  

The Stanford Diversity and Access Office has published guidelines for assisting others in a building evacuation.

Shelter in Place

You may be required to Shelter in Place (remain inside the building) in situations such as:

  • Severe weather.
  • An active threat, active shooter, building intruder, or civil disturbance. Learn more about active threat response.
  • A hazardous materials release
  • Air quality degradation due to a near or distant wildland fire.  Note: evacuation could be necessary if a wildfire is in close proximity to your location.
  • As directed by police personnel for any other situation that requires you to find protection within a building.

For a Hazardous Materials Release or Poor Air Quality 

  • Close all windows and doors.
  • Select an interior room(s) above the ground floor, with the fewest windows or vents.  
  • Do not go outside unless specifically instructed to evacuate.
  • Do not use elevators.
  • Assist physically disabled occupants.
  • Keep cell phones on to receive AlertSU messages.
  • The building air handling systems may be adjusted to prevent fumes or smoke from entering the building.  

Shelter in Place for an Active Threat 

  • Take refuge in a room that can be locked.
  • Close and lock the door(s) or secure doors by any means possible.
  • Limit visibility into the room.
  • Hide under a desk, in a closet, against the wall, or in the corner.
  • Turn off lights
  • Keep cell phone on silent mode.
  • Call 911 if possible without jeopardizing your safety.

Learn more about active threat response at

Emergency Assembly Points (EAPs), and Public Safety

Emergency Assembly Points

Stanford Emergency Assembly Points (EAPs) are safe outdoor locations where building occupants meet outside when a building is evacuated.  At the EAP, building occupants check in as “safe”, communicate knowledge about anyone still inside the building or any known hazards and get information and assistance.  Schools, departments and business units assign one or more individuals to serve as the Emergency Assembly Point (EAP) Coordinator. Every Stanford building has one or more designated EAPs nearby. EAPs are identified on hallway and stairwell evacuation signs.

EAPs are designated by a gray post with a blue triangle.  Blue emergency towers may also be designated as an EAP. In locations where posts are not appropriate, such as a parking lot, EAPs may simply be communicated as specific outdoor locations.

Stanford maps use a blue triangle to indicate the location of Emergency Assembly Points: For more information on your Emergency Assembly Point, please visit the EAP Map, or contact your Department Manager or Building Manager.

Support & Counseling in an Emergency


Emergencies can be frightening and disruptive to the familiar cadence of campus life.  Being prepared and working together can help, but often there is a need for support and counseling at such a stressful time.   

Vaden Health Center’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)  is prepared to help you get through emergencies.  Student Services staff in all residences are trained to guide you to campus resources for support in a disaster or emergency. Students are encouraged to seek counseling assistance at any time.

Faculty and Staff

The Stanford Faculty/Staff Help Center is a resource for support and counseling at all times.  

In an emergency resulting in impacts that are difficult to deal with, the Faculty/Staff Help Center is prepared to provide support to the Stanford community.

Home and Personal Preparedness

Preparedness for Students

Information on preparedness in student residences is at R&DE emergency preparedness.

The University continually evaluates risks associated with natural hazards and other emergencies and strives to keep Stanford safe.  A large part of this effort is the understanding that faculty and staff are vital to emergency response and recovery and, as such, we encourage everyone to plan ahead.  

When you make a plan with your family, you will be able to tend to your work and responsibilities here on campus knowing that your home situation is managed.

The FEMA program is an excellent resource to guide family preparedness. For more information see the page.