Shelter-in-Place Procedures

AU Staff Updated by AU Staff

Shelter-in-Place Procedures – What it Means to “Shelter-in-Place”

If an incident occurs and the buildings or areas around you become unstable, or if the air outdoors becomes dangerous due to toxic or irritating substances, it is usually safer to stay indoors, because leaving the area may expose you to that danger. Thus, to “shelter-in-place” means to make a shelter of the building that you are in, and with a few adjustments this location can be made even safer and more comfortable until it is safe to go outside.

Basic “Shelter-in-Place” Guidance

If an incident occurs and the building you are in is not damaged, stay inside in an interior room until you are told it is safe to come out. If your building is damaged, take your personal belongings (purse, wallet, etc.) and follow the evacuation procedures for your building (close your door, proceed to the nearest exit, and use the stairs instead of the elevators). Once you have evacuated, seek shelter at a distance away from the College building quickly. If police or fire department personnel are on the scene, follow their directions.

How You Will Know to “Shelter-in-Place”

Traditionally college campus preparations for emergencies have relied principally on the fire drill or full evacuation of buildings approach.  However, it is also critically important that we know how to respond to emergencies that require a Shelter in Place or an Emergency Lockdown response.  These emergencies procedures are the opposite of an evacuation.  No fire alarms will be used to inform students, faculty and staff of the emergency.  Instead, the notification for initiating an emergency lockdown or a shelter-in-place notification may come from several sources, including the public address system, instructions given by Security, Residence Life members, other College employees, Local Police Department, or other authorities utilizing the College emergency communications tools.

Emergency Lockdown and response protocols are of two types:

  • Sheltering in place and
  • Implementing a tight perimeter control that prevents students, staff and faculty from entering the campus.
How to “Shelter–in-Place” 

No matter where you are, the basic steps of shelter-in-place will generally remain the same. Should the need ever arise; follow these steps, unless instructed otherwise by local emergency personnel: 

  1. If you are inside, stay where you are. Collect any emergency shelter-in-place supplies and a telephone to be used in case of emergency. If you are outdoors, proceed into the closest building quickly or follow instructions from emergency personnel on the scene. 
  2. Go to an interior room that's above ground level and has no windows. In the case of a chemical threat, an aboveground location is preferable because some chemicals are heavier than air and may seep into basements even if the windows are closed. 
  3. Seal all gaps around the door, around windows, and any vents into the room. 
  4. Keep listening to your radio or television until you are given an "all clear" or told to evacuate.
  5. If you must go out or find that harmful vapors enter your shelter, covering your mouth with a damp cloth may provide minimal breathing protection.


Shelter in Place means that you should remain on campus and if instructed, inside a classroom or office.  Shelter-in-Place is prescribed when it appears to be more dangerous outside than inside.  As with evacuations, instructions to Shelter-in-Place will require you to act immediately.

  1. Follow the directions given by the public address system, AUAlert Communication System, Alliance University personnel, or Security. If you are in the Residence Hall, follow instructions from your Residence Life personnel (RD/RA), or Campus Authority personnel.
  2. If you see an armed individual, move to safety immediately and call 911, and then

Manhattan:  x 6198 from a campus phone. (845) 261-9504 or (845)646-6198 from a private or public phone.      Jersey City: (845) 222-8812 from a private or public phone.

  1. In Manhattan, if safe, use the call boxes located in the hallways. You can also inform the nearest member of the college staff.
  2. Never pull the emergency fire alarm if you see an armed individual. This will send everyone out of the classroom or living areas into a potentially dangerous situation.
  3. Close all doors and windows
  4. Depending on the type of emergency, you will be given additional instructions but it is important remain calm through the emergency.

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