Evacuation Procedures: Tornado | Fire | Illness and Injuries | Criminal Activity

To be sure you are in compliance with regulatory requirements, refer to the EHS Virtual Manual and EHS Safe Operating Procedures.

Evacuation Procedures

Every employee is responsible for knowing evacuation procedures of the building in which they are working. If a life-threatening condition arises, activate a fire alarm and evacuate the building immediately. All employees must be familiar with the alarm locations nearest each office, laboratory, or other work area. This is a training requirement. A building diagram marked with evacuation routes will be posted in hallways, laboratories, and classrooms on each floor. Some fire doors close automatically after activation of the fire alarm. These doors DO NOT lock and DO NOT block access to exits. Do not prop open doors that shut automatically upon activation of the fire alarm. Evacuees will gather in a designated outdoor area. If weather conditions require, a sheltered area or building away from the building in question can be used by the evacuees.

The emergency number (9-911 or 0) should be called as soon as possible from a safe location. The information given to the emergency operator should include the nature of the emergency and the location (i.e., building number and cross streets or address). The appropriate building description must be posted on each telephone.

Laboratory Safety

Laboratory safety and building managers, after checking their areas, must leave the building and then report to emergency personnel if someone from their lab is still inside. Managers must meet the responding emergency personnel at a prearranged location to determine the location of the problem or if it is a false alarm. If it is a false alarm, this information should be communicated to the building occupants by the building managers or unit safety committee. As soon as possible, the nature of the emergency should be communicated to the appropriate administrator. Any questions from the media should be handled by the appropriate administrator.


On hearing the tornado warning announcement, all occupants should proceed to the safe areas listed on the Tornado Shelter area signs posted throughout the building. Tornado warnings within buildings on the UNL campuses are activated by the campus operator. DO NOT pull the fire alarm to warn of an approaching tornado and DO NOT go outside. DO notify a main office, and they will alert the building through the emergency address system. See the UNL Tornado Warning Policy for additional information.

Fire and Explosion

Some small fires can be fought with a fire extinguisher, giving first consideration to personal safety and the protection of others in the building. The location and operation of extinguishers must be covered during safety training. Normally the extinguisher will be located near a room exit. The emergency number (9-911 or 0) must be called even while a fire is being fought to ensure that help is available if needed. In case of explosion, evacuate the building if necessary and call 9-911 or 0 from a safe location. Give the operator the building location and number and the extent of injuries, if any occurred. Escort emergency personnel to the explosion area when they arrive.

Injuries and Sudden Illness

If someone is hurt or becomes seriously ill on the job, first assess the level of injury or illness. If the condition is not serious or life-threatening, the employee may seek medical attention from their personal physician or at a facility of their choice. The use of hospital emergency rooms should be reserved for serious illnesses and injuries or for after hours (10:00pm - 9:00 am) care.

For serious injuries or illness Call 9-911 or 0 with specific information: the building location and number (this information must be pasted on every telephone), the nature of the emergency, and the location of the patient. If the room is difficult to find, someone should escort the emergency personnel to the ill or injured person. A completed incident report describing the accident will be completed by EHS, provided to the supervisor, and filed in the department with a copy sent to the Safety and Facilities Committee. Stocked first aid kits will be provided by each lab and kept in accessible locations. Absorbent pads for bleeding injuries should be included. Gloves should be worn when tending a bleeding wound. Replenish what is used from the first aid kit.

Crime Prevention is Everyone’s Responsibility

  • Lock unattended rooms.
  • Lock vehicles and remove valuables or secure them in the trunk.
  • Observe your surroundings as you walk to and from your vehicle.
  • Pay attention to people acting out of place, such as wandering around the halls or standing around for no apparent reason.
  • Inform supervisors when hearing statements suggesting someone will harm themselves or others.
  • During off-hours, do not allow others to enter the building on your N-Card unless you know them. 

I. Crimes Discovered After the Fact

  • Report incident to the University Police Department at 2-2222 (402-472-2222).
  • If people are injured, obtain medical support.
  • Report incident to your supervisor.
  • Avoid disturbing the crime scene.

II. Crimes in Progress
When confronted with workplace violence, there are no easy answers, just general principles.

  • Be aware. If it sounds like a gunshot, assume it is.
  • Protect yourself and others from injury. This may mean evacuating the building or sheltering in place.
  • As soon as you are able, notify University or City Law enforcement at 2-2222 (402-472-2222), dial 0, or dial 9-911. Provide as many details about the suspect(s) as possible.
  • When law enforcement arrives, follow their directions. Make sure they can see your hands. They will not know who is a victim or perpetrator so they will treat everyone as potential perpetrators.

Shelter in Place-General Guidance
Although it is unlikely that we will ever need to shelter in place, it is helpful to know what to do just in case. No matter where you are on campus, the basic steps of shelter in place will generally remain the same.

  • If you are inside, and decide that it isn’t safe enough to evacuate, try to find a secure location that the suspects cannot reach you.
  • Typically, secure rooms will be interior room, and with the fewest windows. If sheltering in a room with windows, keep away from the windows. If there is a large group of people inside a particular building, several rooms may be necessary.
  • Shut and lock all windows (locking will form a tighter seal) and close exterior doors. Barricade the door if it doesn’t lock. Turn off lights. Remain quiet so as not to draw attention to yourself.
  • Make a list of the people with you and call the list in to UPD so they know where are you are sheltering.
  • Visit unl.edu for incident updates. If possible, turn on a radio to KRNU (FM 90.3) and listen for further instructions. If your e-mail address or mobile device is registered with UNL Alert check for alert notifications.
  • Make yourself comfortable and look after one other. Help will come as soon as it is safe to come out.

Environmental Health & Safety Link

EHS provides a number of Safe Operating Procedures (SOPs) that provide additional and useful information.

View SOPs