Seton Hall University

Emergency Preparedness Guide and Procedures

DSS Overview

Seton Hall University is committed to providing an accessible, welcoming, and safe environment for students, faculty, staff, and visitors. To help ensure their safety in the event of an emergency on campus, they should be prepared to implement emergency procedures while addressing their special needs.

Persons with disabilities who wish to obtain assistance in preparing for emergencies should contact the Office of Disability Support Services (DSS). In collaboration with the SHU Department of Public Safety, individual emergency preparedness plans can be created for persons with functional limitations related to their disability. Persons in need of additional information or assistance with developing an individualized emergency preparedness plan please contact DSS at (973) 313-6003 or via e-mail at [email protected].

Emergency Preparedness Guide and Procedures

The SHU campus can be impacted by a range of emergencies that require individuals to take action to protect themselves. These include natural hazards such as weather related hazards and disease outbreaks;technological hazards including fires, hazardous materials releases, and utility failures;and intentional hazards such as crime and terrorism.

Evacuation and sheltering-in-place are the two primary means by which exposure to most hazards can be reduced. You should be prepared to evacuate to a safer location or to shelter in place depending on the type and location of the hazard. You may receive instructions to seek shelter via PirateAlert, through the activation of the University Emergency Siren, or directly from emergency personnel. Instructions to evacuate may be received via PirateAlert, through an activated fire alarm, or directly from responders.

Basic Preparedness Steps

  • Assemble disaster supply kits (or smaller version known as "Go Bags") and store them in your dorm room, car, and/or place of employment. Each individual kit should be customized to meet specific needs, such as medications and medical equipment. Package your "Go Bag" so that you can carry it with you in the event of an evacuation.
  • Develop an emergency plan. Emergency plans could include such strategies as storing extra equipment or medications specific evacuation procedures, sheltering procedures, and designating means of communication in the event of an emergency. Identify persons such as roommates, classmates, co-workers, etc. who are willing to assist you.
  • Know how you will be notified of an emergency on campus. Make sure your correct contact information (including cell phone number) is entered into the University's PirateAlert Emergency Notification System.
  • Become familiar with the University's emergency procedures, the layout of the campus and the facilities you use, and the location of building emergency exits.
  • Be familiar with emergency procedures for specific hazards that may occur in your area (see below).
  • Individuals with disabilities should establish a "buddy system" by arranging for classmates, instructors, roommates, or co-workers to assist them in the event of an emergency. Their "buddies" should be made aware of their special needs and how they can assist them.

Weather Related Emergency
Severe weather conditions may include hurricanes, tornados, and other high wind events;thunderstorms/lightning;flooding;severe snow;and severe hot or cold temperatures.

  • During high wind events shelter indoors in interior windowless spaces or in a location away or shielded from the windows in your room. If unable to go indoors find low ground such as a ditch to shield yourself from the wind and flying debris.
  • When confronted by thunderstorms/lightning shelter indoors in an enclosed structure which is grounded by an electrical system. While indoors, unplug electrical equipment or appliances.
  • Do not walk or drive through flooded areas. Follow evacuation instructions when issued and go to high ground.
  • During winter storms or extreme cold stay indoors and minimize travel. If stranded on the highway, remain in your vehicle unless an occupied building is visible and within a safe walking distance. Stay warm in your vehicle by using blankets and extra clothing from your "Go Kit". Only run your engine for heat 10 minutes out of the hour and only if the engine exhaust can be kept clear of snow.
  • If outdoors during periods of extreme low temperatures dress warmly in layers and protect your head and extremities with a warm hat, gloves, and footwear. Keep hydrated.
  • During periods of extreme heat stay indoors in the shade preferably in an air conditioned building. Keep hydrated. Persons with medical conditions should consult with their doctor regarding increased fluid intake. 

Disease Outbreak
The outbreak of a serious communicable disease can spread rapidly through a college/university community. 

  • Follow instructions from public health authorities. You may be directed to self-isolate to limit interaction with other persons. Be prepared to shelter indoors with supplies from your disaster supply kit.
  • If you have a medical condition consult with your physician and keep an adequate supply of your prescription medications available.
  • Monitor the media and university sources for official news and information including signs and symptoms of the disease, availability of vaccines and medications, and procedures to follow if you or someone living with you becomes ill.
  • Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently and cover your coughs. Follow hygiene and sanitation instructions from public health authorities.
  • Have a supply of N95 rated face masks in your disaster supply kit in case their use is recommended by public health authorities.

Building fire can occur in any facility, spread quickly, and produce lethal smoke, heat, and gases. Persons may themselves detect signs of a fire or be notified by the activation of a fire alarm.

  • If a fire alarm activates, building occupants should evacuate without delay through the nearest safe fire exit. They should be familiar with alternate exits in case the nearest exit is blocked by the fire or large crowd attempting to evacuate. 
  • If you detect signs of a fire and the fire alarm system has not yet activated, activate a fire alarm pull station, exit the building, and call 9-1-1 to report your observations.
  • Check before opening a room door to access a hallway to evacuate. Look through a vision panel to check for smoke or flames. If there is no vision panel feel the door with your hand. If it is hot DO NOT OPEN the door. Find an alternate exit door or shelter in place.
  • If the door is cool to the touch open it slightly to check for smoke. If the smoke extends from ceiling to floor close the door and find an alternate door or shelter in place. If the smoke has not reached the floor and you can see the path to a fire exit, you can move low under the smoke to the fire exit.
  • When it is not possible to leave the room due to fire or smoke and you cannot safely exit through a window, you should shelter-in-place. Seal the door as best you can and call 9-1-1 to report your location. Signal through a window, if available, to responders.
  • Remember that elevators will shut down when the alarm activates. Persons on upper floors or those on floors below ground level will need to use stairwells to evacuate.
  • Evacuees with mobility impairments should use a handicapped accessible exit. If a handicapped exit is not available or is blocked and an evacuee is not able to use stairs, he/she should enter the nearest fire exit stairwell, close the fire door, and remain on the landing. He/she should call 9-1-1 and report their location so that emergency responders can locate and assist them. They should also request a helper or passerby to exit the building and report their location to responders.

Power Failure
Prolonged power failures can disable building heating and cooling systems exposing people to severe temperatures, cripple fire alarms and communications systems, disable refrigeration of food and medicine, and prevent the use of critical medical equipment.

  • Have a flashlight, battery powered or hand crank radio, and extra batteries available as part of your Disaster Supply Kit/"Go Bag". A solar or battery powered cellphone charger is also a very helpful device to help you stay in touch during a prolonged power failure. 
  • Limit the use of your personal electronics to conserve battery power.
  • As part of your emergency planning, make prior arrangements for the refrigeration of medications and for continued use of critical electrically powered medical equipment.
  • In cold weather, ensure that you have adequate clothing and bedding to stay warm if building heating systems fail. Be alert for signs of cold related illness.
  • If air conditioning fails in hot weather, use shades or window blinds to reflect sunlight, keep hydrated, limit physical activity, take cool showers/baths, and be alert for signs of heat related illness.

Hazardous Material (HAZMAT) Release
Hazardous materials can be released due to transportation accidents, industrial accidents or fires at chemical plants or storage facilities, laboratory/workplace spills, acts of terrorism, etc. 

  • Monitor information sources and follow instructions from authorities. You may be instructed to evacuate or to shelter-in-place depending on circumstances.
  • If you must shelter-in-place go to the upper floors of your building, turn off air conditioning and ventilation systems, and close and seal doors and windows with plastic sheeting and duct tape to help keep out the HAZMAT.
  • If ordered to evacuate due to an outdoor HAZMAT release follow directions on how to exit the area to a safe zone. Bring your "Go Bag". 
  • If you evacuate from a building due to an indoor release of a HAZMAT go to an assembly location upwind, uphill, and upstream from the release site to reduce your exposure, report your situation to the authorities, and await further instructions. 
  • If you come into contact with a hazardous chemical you should remove contaminated clothing and shower thoroughly with large amounts of cold water and soap. Do not rub your skin. Blot dry. Report for professional decontamination as soon as it is available. 

Active Shooter
An active shooter incident can occur at any college or university. It involves one or more persons actively attempting to harm multiple persons through the use of deadly force. You may be confronted by an active shooter without warning or may receive notification and instructions from authorities regarding the presence of a shooter on campus.

  • When alerted to the presence of an active shooter on campus, SHU Public Safety will notify the community (via PirateAlert and the Emergency Siren System) and instruct community members to seek shelter indoors in rooms that can be locked or barricaded. They will also instruct persons to avoid the area or facilities in which the active shooter is believed to be located.
  • RUN - If you are confronted by an active shooter situation, know the location of the attacker, and have a safe way to escape from the building: you should leave the building and warn others as you evacuate. Upon exiting warn people outside not to enter the facility.
  • HIDE –If you do not know the location of the attacker or cannot safety escape from the building: you should shelter within a secured room, quietly monitor PirateAlert (turn cell phone ringer off) for instructions and updates, and plan with others around you how to resist the attacker as a group if he/she enters your place of refuge.
  • FIGHT –If the attacker enters your group's place of refuge, the group should use all objects available to you to assault and incapacitate the attacker and to escape. 

For additional information on emergency responses to specific hazards:

Additional Information

SHU Public Safety
Centers for Disease Control
National Weather Service
American Red Cross

Specific Disability Considerations

Emergency Preparedness based on disability type:

Blindness or Visual Impairment

  • Ask the responder or person providing evacuation assistance, to identify the nature of the emergency
  • Ask that they lend an elbow to guide you and that they talk slowly and clearly to direct you. 
  • Ask to be alerted about any potential hazards that you may come across as you exit.
  • Carry a note or tag identifying your disability
  • Do not isolate yourself

Deafness or Hearing Loss

  • All buildings on the SHU campus are equipped with visual (flashing light) as well as auditory evacuation alarms.
  • Carry a pen and/or pencil and note pad to write down questions, concerns or instructions
  • Flick lights on and off to signal distress
  • Establish eye contact, use facial and hand expressions to display visual cues
  • Offer pen and paper to better assist
  • Formulate questions that can be answered by head nods (yes/no)

Respiratory Issues

  • In case of smoke/fire emergency seek immediate transfer to the lower levels
  • Remove shirt or other piece of clothing to cover nose and mouth to minimize smoke inhalation
  • Make sure to pack your inhaler/ other breathing devices close at hand

Food Allergies / Diabetes

  • Keep food that is suited for your condition around that can be easily brought with you
  • Keep Epi-pen close if one is required
  • Carry a supply of insulin for an emergency

Mobility Impairments

  • Avoid being evacuated by untrained personnel or other students, unless the situation is life-threatening. 
  • If you cannot exit, move to a safer area, such as, an enclosed stairwell or an office with the door shut which is a good distance from the hazard (and away from falling debris in the case of earthquakes.)
  • Ask a passing evacuator to notify emergency responders immediately about your location.
  • While moving proceed cautiously.
  • Periodically tell the person assisting you with evacuation how to better assist you through the emergency.

People Using Crutches, Canes or Walkers / Non-Ambulatory

  • The same procedures outlined for the Mobility Impaired should be used.
  • Crutches, canes and walkers should NOT be left behind
  • If on crutches- hop or scoot down stairs while holding crutches
  • Power wheelchairs may have heavy batteries, which are difficult to remove. In this situation, it may be necessary to transfer to an evacuation chair, if possible, so that you can be moved immediately. 
  • If separated from your wheelchair, ask that it be retrieved as soon as possible. Your wheelchair is essential to your mobility and should be given a high priority to be retrieved as soon as possible. Inform Public Safety of the location of your wheelchair to be retrieved.

Effective Date

May 20, 2015