Emergency Preparedness


 student picking up emergency kit

Preparing for an emergency is everyone’s responsibility. Please read the following information carefully. For additional information about campus-wide emergency response to earthquakes, severe storms, fires, hazardous materials incidents, terrorism and extreme heat, visit UW Emergency Management.

Disaster and Emergency Protocol

American Red Cross Safe and Well

The American Red Cross provides a resource for students and families to connect with one another following any kind of major event that might affect the UW campus. The UW has provided some information on this program, as well as links to other emergency resources.

Should disaster strike, we encourage you to report your status on the Safe and Well website. Your family and friends will be able to search for you by name to find out your status, location, and other information you choose to provide.

In addition to bookmarking the Safe and Well page, we recommend that you share this information with your family and friends, and urge them to use it to search for you, and to report their status in an emergency that has affected their area.

Out-of-area Contact

If you are separated from loved ones when disasters strike, you will immediately wonder how and where they are. The stress of the event may make it difficult to remember even routine information like phone numbers. Consequently, we recommend that every person have an out-of-area contact card in a wallet, purse or backpack at all times.

  • Ask a family friend or relative who lives at least 100 miles away from you to be your out-of-area contact.
  • After a disaster, all family members call this person to tell him/her how they are and to find out how other members are. You create a communication circle through a third party.
  • You may be able to send a text message to your loved ones on your cell phone. Keep it short!

Why Out-of-Area?

It may be difficult to make local calls because of the number of people trying to make calls at the same time. The local systems may be overloaded. However, you may be able to make a long distance call.

Emergency Kit

Emergency kits are provided to students moving in to a residence hall or apartment for the first time. Each kit contains supplies for a 72-hour period. Contents include:

  • 72-hour supply of water
  • Nut free emergency food rations
  • AM/FM radio
  • Flash light
  • Glow sticks
  • Solar blanket  
  • N95 NIOSH respirator
  • Whistle

Other essentials you may want to include:

  • First-aid kit and manual
  • Critical medications, copies of prescriptions
  • Bottled water
  • Sturdy shoes, rain gear, change of clothes, sweater or jacket
  • Blanket or sleeping bag
  • Spare eyeglasses
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Sealable plastic bags (for waste and storage)
  • Tissues, premoistened towelettes  
  • Out-of-area emergency contact telephone number
  • Cash (after an earthquake, most purchases will be strictly “cash and carry”; ATMs may be unusable for days)

Students are expected to bring the kit back with them following any break in residence and to replace any used or lost items at your own expense. Replacement kits may be purchased at campus express markets.

Family housing residents are highly encouraged to put together and maintain an emergency kit with enough supplies to accommodate the needs of their entire family. 

Fire Safety

If a fire occurs in a residence hall or apartment, immediately call 911 and ask to be connected to the fire department. For Stevens Court residents, a telephone is available outside of the Community Center.

  • Know two exits from your corridor or apartment.
  • Do not obstruct doors, hallways, exit-ways, ramps or windows.
  • Do not use space heaters*, open-flame or open-coil cooking appliances (e.g., fondue pot, toaster, hot plate, etc.), halogen torchiere lamps, dangerous chemicals or fireworks.
  • Do not burn candles, incense or anything with an open flame (Not applicable to Blakeley and Laurel Village residents). These items violate the fire code and are strictly prohibited.
  • Never tamper with or disconnect a smoke detector or fire sprinkler; they are life-saving devices.

*Space heaters are allowed only when issued by Residential Services as a temporary heat source.

Additionally, residents in Family Housing and single student apartments should:

  • Create a fire-safety plan with your apartmentmates.
  • Identify the location of the fire extinguisher nearest your apartment. Fire extinguishers are located in exterior stairwells or adjacent to your apartment entry.
  • Learn how to remove the window screens before an emergency occurs.

Fire Safety Evacuation Procedures

Treat All Alarms as Real

If you are alerted of fire by an alarm, a shouted warning or smoke, evacuate the building immediately and cautiously. Follow these guidelines:

  • Stay close to the floor if there is smoke in the room. If smoke is not present, close any open windows.
  • Feel the door before opening it. If it is hot, do not open it. If it is not hot, open the door carefully. If smoke and/or heat are present, close the door and stay in the room. Seal the cracks around the door with whatever is handy. If you are able to, call 911 and report that you are trapped. Be sure to give the physical address and room number. If you cannot call 911, hang a sheet, jacket, etc., out of the window to attract attention.
  • If the hall/apartment is free of smoke and heat, close and lock your door and exit immediately by the closest stairwell, preferably an outside stairwell. Do not use an elevator. If the nearest exit is blocked, go to another exit.
  • If you find yourself in a smoke-filled corridor, move quickly in a crouched position. If possible, place a wet cloth over your face and head.
  • If all exits are blocked, go back to your room/apartment. Close the door, hang something out the window and signal for help.
  • Once outside, move away from the building to the location indicated by UW staff.
  • Do not reenter the building until you are given permission by police, fire officials or the Residential Life Office staff. The silencing of the alarm does not indicate that the building is safe to reenter.

Fire Safety Evacuation Procedures for Students with Disabilities

Resident Advisers in each residence hall building, and the Resident Director, know the room locations of students who have identified themselves as having a disability. Each student with a disability is encouraged to identify in advance at least one volunteer who will agree to be responsible for assisting him/her to a safe location if necessary. A Resident Adviser/Community Assistant may be helpful in identifying persons who are willing to assist (see the UW brochure Emergency Evacuation for Persons with Disabilities).

Fire Safety Equipment

Your life and the lives of your friends and neighbors could depend on the judicious operation of fire-safety equipment. False alarms, arson, abuse of fire and life-safety equipment and propping open fire doors are serious crimes. Violators are subject to fines, UW disciplinary procedures and criminal prosecution.

  • Do not, under any circumstances, tamper with smoke or heat detectors, sprinklers, fire extinguishers or any alarm system. If cleanup and/or repair is required as a result of your tampering with any fire-safety equipment, your housing account will be billed for the associated costs.
  • Do not prop open fire doors.
  • Entering or exiting through windows, except as an emergency egress out of a residence hall building or apartment, is prohibited.
  • Any person(s) responsible for a negligent act that results in activation of a fire alarm may be charged for costs associated with response by fire-safety personnel.
  • You are subject to City of Seattle fines and UW disciplinary action for failure to comply with alarms.

Smoke Detectors

If your smoke detector malfunctions, contact your residence hall front desk to report the problem immediately. Outside front desk hours, residence hall residents should contact the Resident Adviser on duty for their hall via the 206-543-1000 phone number. Family Housing and single student housing residents should contact the Residential Services Office immediately at 206-543-4017, 24 hours a day. Do not disconnect the smoke detector. The maintenance staff will enter rooms/apartments periodically to check smoke detectors. If a smoke detector needs repair as a result of your tampering, you will be billed for the cost of repair and you may be subject to disciplinary action.

Fire Lanes

The wide sidewalks at Blakeley Village and Laurel Village and around Stevens Court are designated as fire lanes. These are reserved for emergency-vehicle access only. Do not drive or park on these lanes. If you unlawfully use the fire lanes, you may be ticketed or fined by the Seattle Fire Department or the UW Police Department (UWPD).

Quick Reference Guide

If the fire is inside your room:

  • Leave your room/apartment immediately and close the door.
  • Report the fire by pulling a fire alarm or dialing 911 directly.

If the fire is not in your room:

  • Check the door for heat with your palm before opening.

If the door is hot:

  • Remain in your room/apartment.
  • Hang a sheet out the window for attention.
  • Seal the space under your door with a blanket.
  • Put a towel over your face.
  • Wait for help.

If the door is cool:

  • Take your room/apartment key.
  • Open your door slowly.
  • Walk to the closest exit and proceed to the street.
  • If exiting down is not safe, return to your room and follow procedures as if the door were hot.

Earthquake Safety

The state of Washington is in a seismic activity zone that could be subject to a major earthquake. Preparing for an earthquake is everyone’s responsibility. Please read the following information carefully.

Before an Earthquake

  • Know what the dangers are and how to prepare for them. For more information, visit UW Emergency Management's earthquake page.
  • Identify hazards—tall cabinets and bookcases, overhead lamps, etc.—in places where you spend most of your time. Move heavy objects from high shelves to lower shelves. Know danger spots, such as windows, brick walls and unsecured furniture.
  • Select safe areas in each room—under tables or desks, or against inside walls and supported doorways.
  • Move objects from above your bed and/or over doorways.

During an Earthquake

  • Remember these words—DROP, COVER, HOLD ON. When you first feel shaking, take immediate cover; crouch under a heavy desk, table or bench and hold onto it.
  • Do not attempt to walk during the earthquake; you may be thrown to the ground.
  • Do not try to go outside. The area immediately surrounding any building is extremely hazardous due to falling objects and breaking glass.
  • If you are outside when an earthquake starts, move away from the sides of buildings, overhead power lines, chimneys, antennas, etc. Drop to the ground and protect your head.
  • Accept that you will be frightened. There will be a great deal of noise; lights, except for emergency lighting, may go out.
  • Expect the intensity of the shaking to fluctuate. It may increase and decrease several times before subsiding. Wait a few seconds after the shaking stops before leaving your protection.

After an Earthquake

  • Do not use any electricity or running water until a UW official has confirmed that it is safe to do so.
  • DO NOT USE ELEVATORS during or after an earthquake until direction is given that their use is safe.
  • If directed to evacuate the building due to an earthquake, bring your emergency kit, your purse or wallet, and keys in the event you are unable to reenter the building for an extended period of time. Wear shoes, appropriate clothing and a sweater or jacket.
  • If an evacuation is ordered, use the stairs. Never use elevators during a building evacuation.
  • Do not reenter your residence or any building, including parking structures, until it has been examined and declared safe.
  • UW officials will dispense additional information; listen to them and follow their instructions. Your safety may depend on your cooperation, so please comply.

Make Your Room/Apartment Safer

  • Be sure mirrors, framed pictures, glass items or other heavy objects aren't hanging over your bed or desk.
  • Don't use unsecured shelves made out of bricks, cement blocks and boards.
  • Place heavy objects lower to the ground. 

Elevator Safety

Should an elevator fail to function properly while you are a passenger, use the phone or emergency call button installed in the car to notify staff of the situation and do not attempt to exit the elevator by yourself. Stay in the elevator until you are given instructions by emergency-response personnel. In case of fire, do not use the elevators.