Penn State emergency officials offer safety reminders for building evacuations

January 19, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — No one plans to be put in an emergency situation, but having a plan in place and knowing what to do ahead of time can make all the difference when confronted with a real-life crisis.

That’s the message from Penn State emergency officials, who are reminding faculty, staff and students of the key steps to take during an emergency building evacuation.

To make a building evacuation as orderly and safe as possible for everyone, keep these steps in mind:

  • Be familiar with the building evacuation map for your floor. Maps can be found in main hallways or in common areas such as elevator lobbies, and show the evacuation route, location of safety equipment, and the location of the designated meeting site outside the building.
  • Know the location of at least two exits from your area ahead of time.
  • Exit the building as calmly and quickly as possible using the nearest safe exit.
  • Walk, do not run, and do not use the elevator.
  • Direct others, including students in classrooms and those in the immediate area, to evacuate.
  • Quickly shut down operating equipment, if it is safe to do so.
  • Gather your personal belongings, if it is safe to do so.
  • If safe, close the door once all occupants have exited, but do not lock.
  • Help others in need of assistance.
  • Move to a safe location away from the building or to your building’s designated meeting site, and wait for further instructions from safety officials or PSU Alert.
  • Advise designated public safety officials if you suspect that someone is missing, injured or needs assistance to evacuate.
  • Do not re-enter the building or work area until you have been instructed to do so by designated public safety officials. Silencing of alarms does not mean the emergency is over.

Helping others who may need assistance in exiting the building is especially important. When assisting those with functional disabilities during an emergency, keep the following in mind:

For a blind or visually impaired individual:

  • Clearly announce the emergency.
  • Offer your arm for guidance.
  • Lead the person and alert them to obstacles.

For a deaf or hard of hearing individual:

  • Turn lights on and off to gain the person’s attention.
  • Indicate directions with gestures or a written note.

For mobility-impaired:

  • Guide the person to the nearest exit stairwell, designated safe area, or assisted evacuation staging area.
  • Never use elevators.
  • Call 911 or campus police (814-863-1111 at University Park) to report your location.
  • Stay with the person if it can be done without unreasonable personal risk.

As always, in case of an emergency, call 911.

Faculty and instructors are reminded to review the evacuation maps for each building they conduct classes in and be aware of their role in the evacuation process. In a classroom setting, it is the faculty member or instructor’s responsibility to ensure all classroom occupants evacuate and report to the building’s designated meeting site during an evacuation. If any classroom occupant is mobility challenged and needs assistance, it is the responsibility of the faculty member or instructor to ensure the occupant moves to the assisted evacuation staging area and to call 911 to let emergency responders know where they are located.

For additional information on emergency evacuations and other emergency guidelines, visit Penn State Emergency Management and Penn State Environmental Health and Safety online.

Last Updated January 19, 2017