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“Shelter-in-place” is a directive to seek immediate shelter indoors following the announcement of an emergency condition.


“Shelter-in-place” is a directive to seek immediate shelter indoors following the announcement of an emergency condition. Sheltering can be related to a variety of situations, including: severe weather emergencies, hazardous condition, chemical release, or criminal activity. When it is necessary to shelter-in-place, you will be safest by moving inside to a building space that protects you from the danger. DO NOT lock doors behind you as others may also need to shelter-in-place.

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 belonging (purse, wallet, access card, 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 the nearest University building quickly. If police or fire department personnel are on the scene, follow their directions.

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

A shelter-in-place notification may come from several sources: UWF Police Department, Housing Staff members, other University employees, or other authorities utilizing the University’s emergency communications tools.

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. Remain CALM
  2. 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
  3. Locate a room to shelter inside. It should be:
  4. An interior room;
  5. Above ground level; and
  6. Without windows or with the least number of windows. If there is a large group of people inside a particular building, several rooms maybe necessary
  7. Shut and lock all windows (for a tighter seal) and close exterior doors
  8. Turn off air conditioners, heaters, and fans
  9. Close vents to ventilation systems as you are able, (University staff will turn off the ventilation as quickly as possible)
  10. Make a list of the people with you and ask someone, (hall staff, faculty, or other staff) to call the list in to UWF Police Department so they know where you are sheltering. If only students are present, one of the students should call in the list.
  11. Turn on a radio or TV and listen for further instructions

At the sound of a fire alarm or if you are instructed to evacuate, leave the work area immediately and proceed to the nearest exit, and leave the building. If you are the first to recognize a fire situation, activate the alarm, evacuate to a safe location using the nearest exit, and notify UWF Police Department at (850) 474-2415 or dial 911.

For severe weather and civil unrest:

  1. Stay inside and move away from windows
  2. Close and lock all exterior doors and offices
  3. For extreme weather, relocate to lower levels in the building.

For external chemical, biological or radiological incidents:

  1. Stay inside and move to an inner corridor or office
  2. Facilities Management personnel may shut down all building ventilation fans and air conditioners, when necessary and appropriate
  3. Since many chemical agents are heavier than air, and tend to hold close to the ground, move to higher levels of the building if possible, to reduce the transfer of contaminated air from outside to inside
  4. Remain alert for instructions and updates as they become available from the emergency personnel and University administrators.