Shelter-in-Place Procedures

Shelter-in-place goes into effect during emergency situations where it is important to minimize exposure to outdoor hazards.

These situations may include:

  • Extreme weather.
  • Dangerous air quality due to the release of hazardous materials.

Signals: Shelter-in-place will be signaled by the O-Alert system.

Action: If a shelter-in-place order is given, enter the nearest building and move to an interior room away from exterior windows.

The term, Shelter-in-Place, means to seek immediate shelter and remain there during an emergency rather than evacuate the area. It is always preferred to evacuate. Shelter-in-Place should only be used when an evacuation is not safe. Certain events may necessitate the initiation of the university’s Shelter-in-Place Protocol. The decision to Shelter-in-Place will be made by University Police in consultation with the University President, if available.

Once the decision has been made, University Police will instruct the campus community to Shelter-in-Place. This notification will be made using all means of communication available.

Examples of instances when the Shelter-in-Place protocol may be used are:

Shelter-in-Place (hazardous incident) Recommendations

In the event of a critical incident where hazardous (including chemical, biological or radiological) materials may have been released into the atmosphere either accidentally or intentionally, a decision to Shelter-in-Place may be the preferred method of safely waiting out the release. The following recommendations should be considered:

  • Move to rooms with no windows that can open or are open
  • Rooms that have little or no ventilation are preferred
  • Close any open windows and doors if you cannot move
  • Only come out when you are told that it is safe by University Police

Shelter-in-Place (violent person) Procedures

In the event of the presence of a person or persons deemed by University Police to be a threat to the campus community, a decision to Shelter-in-Place would be made by University Police in consultation with the University President, if available. This is the preferred method of keeping people out of harm's way, controlling pedestrian traffic on campus, and controlling access to buildings.

Upon receiving notification to Shelter-in-Place:

  • Stay in your rooms/ offices/ classrooms.
  • Notify those around you and encourage others to remain in your room/ office rather that to try to leave the building.
  • Lock the doors, cover the door window, pull down the blinds, turn off the lights and stay calm.
  • Stay away from the windows.
  • Check your email or visit the university website, if a TV is available, turn it on, turn the volume off.
  • Report any suspicious activity, sounds or smells to University Police- 3550 or 911 (on campus phones).
  • Only come out when you recognize the authority directing you to do so.

Shelter-in-Place (weather) Recommendation

A severe weather event such as a tornado or wind event during normal operating hours of the university may necessitate you Shelter-in-Place until the threat of bad weather has passed. Relocating from your normal work area to a space that has no windows or to a lower floor may increase your chances of survival. It is recommended that you:

  • Move to the basement of the building- they usually provide the best protection.
  • Move to an interior room with no windows, or a hallway on the lowest floor possible.
  • Move to an interior stairwell if all rooms have windows.
  • Stay in the center of the room away from doors and windows.
  • Stay in place until the danger has passed.

Please note: The Heating and Ventilation system may be shut down or changed to recirculate air to prevent drawing in outside air.

The exterior doors will be locked to prevent persons from entering the buildings. Access to doors using card access will be limited to University Police.

Initiation of Shelter-in-Place

The Chief of University Police in consultation with the University President (if available) will make the determination when a situation requires the Shelter-in-Place Procedures to be initiated. The Chief will:

  • Direct the protocol

The Officer in Charge will assign personnel to:

  • Trigger “O-Alert”
  • Notify Telecom of the situation and the message to be sent on Voice Mail
  • Notify Computer services of the situation and the message
  • Notify the university AV office of the situation and the message for the TV
  • Notify the bus company to stop the busses
  • Send a message to set up road barriers
  • Send a message on the emergency response team’s radio band to lock buildings and check all doors
  • Turn off card access

Voice message: A situation has occurred on campus that requires you to stay inside until a recognized officer of law tells you it is safe. Please remain in your room and lock the door.

Approved: May 25, 2010, President’s Cabinet

Information about the situation will be communicated via the O-Alert system and university webpage as it becomes available.

  • Once it is safe to resume normal activities, an “All Clear” message will be sent via the O-Alert system.

This preparedness guide for students, faculty, staff and visitors has been provided to you by SUNY Oneonta. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with how SUNY Oneonta plans for emergencies, and to improve your understanding of emergency preparedness and response. This guide is based on presently available information, as well as current federal- and state-recommended protective actions. In every situation, common sense and awareness of personal safety should take precedence over any action described in this guide.

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