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Index > Operations Policies > Evacuation and Shelter in Place Procedures

Evacuation and Shelter in Place Procedures


In most emergency situations that could occur on our campus people will be asked to respond by either sheltering in place or evacuating. It is the goal of the EOCT to educate all members of the campus in what these two responses entail so that in the event of an emergency everyone will be prepared.


This policy affects all members of the RISD community (faculty, staff, students, and Museum, including all visitors).


EOCT -- Emergency Operations Command Team

EHS -- Environmental Health and Safety

RISD!Alert -- The RISD!Alert emergency notification system uses broadcast telephone, e-mail and/or text messaging for quick distribution of time-sensitive information to students, faculty, staff and family members.


In the event of a dangerous situation on campus, it is important for all community members to understand and follow directives from Public Safety, EHS, RISD Administration, and city and state officials.


Shelter in place

In emergency situations where the risk is outside (e.g., severe weather, airborne toxin, shooter on campus) it is important for people to stay where they are and minimize their exposure; in these circumstances shelter in place of lock down will be required.

Shelter in place will be signaled by RISD Alert! to the campus community. Upon shelter in place alert, students, faculty and staff who are not already indoors should immediately enter the nearest building.

If you are indoors already, remain in place and follow instructions from RISD Alert! (Shelter in Place will be used when the threat outside is weather or chemical related):

  • Close doors/windows
  • Shut off fans and air conditioners
  • Remain in place until you have been told it is safe to leave

The College will disseminate all-clear information as soon as it is available through RISD!Alert, broadcast email, voice mail, and via the emergency website.

RISD has made preparations to provide food and water during a prolonged shelter in place emergency.


When the dangerous situation outside is criminal activity (such as a dangerous person on campus) people will be notified that the campus is on lockdown, and in addition to the steps above they should also:

  • Turn off all cell phone ringers (but keep cell phone on for updates)
  • Do not answer land lines
  • Barricade doors
  • Turn off lights
  • Remain as quiet as possible


In the case of a fire or other emergency that requires all occupants to immediately leave a building or area, evacuation will be signaled by the internal building alarm, a RISD!Alert or by the direction of emergency personnel. In an evacuation situation:

  • Immediately leave a hazardous location (i.e. building, area of campus, etc.) due to an immediate health or life-threatening event
  • Evacuation is REQUIRED when the alarm is sounding for every individual in the building
  • Do not use elevators during an evacuation
  • Exit in an orderly fashion (running and pushing can lead to falls and injuries)
  • Gather at a designated meeting place or at a safe distance from the building or area
  • Do not block entrances or exits (emergency personnel will need access to the building/area)
  • Stay together, assess who is present
  • Faculty members who were leading classes should gather names of students; supervisors should gather names of staff, RAs should gather names of residents and their guests
  • Report the position and condition of any persons unable to leave the building or area or who need assistance
  • Wait for the all-clear from emergency personnel before attempting to re-enter the building or area

If a fire or other incident makes a building or area unsafe to re-enter for a significant period of time, students, faculty, staff and/or visitors will be directed to a temporary shelter for support (food, information, shelter, medical attention, etc.). Generally, these sites are locations (such as the Met or the Auditorium. Specific details will be provided at the time of the emergency by College Administration and staff.

Building evacuation plans have been developed for all facilities at RISD in the event of a fire or other emergency. Maps showing a means of egress can be found on the exit doors leading from each residential space and in hallways of other buildings. Become familiar with these exit routs for any building you frequent.

Students living off campus should develop and practice their own evacuation plans as part of a comprehensive fire safety plan. For assistance or more information, contact the Office of Student Life.

Students with Disabilities

The Disability Support Services Office, located in Thompson House offers a range of resources for undergraduate and graduate students with physical, cognitive or psychiatric disabilities. (Employees with disabilities should contact Human Resources on the 3rd floor of 20 Washington Place.)

Students with physical disabilities living in residence halls who may require special assistance to respond to emergency situations should contact the Disability Support Services Office for steps to follow should their building need to be evacuated.

Students should understand that they will have some personal responsibility for implementing their plan, and discussion with the Coordinator of Disability Support Services is designed to ensure that students understand their own responsibilities in the event of an emergency.

Students with disabilities living off campus should develop and practice their own evacuation plans as part of a comprehensive fire safety plans. The Coordinator of Disability Support Services can assist with home and fire safety advice.

During an evacuation, follow the same protocol outlined above. If you need assistance leaving a building or area, notify a co-worker, friend, roommate, etc. that you will wait by the nearest stairwell. Do not use an elevator during an evacuation. Also call Public Safety ext. 6666 from your cell phone and let the operator know of your exact location. Stay calm until help arrives. In the event of an evacuation from a campus building that is not your residence, you should proceed to the nearest stairwell and wait for an officer to help you get out of the building.

Prior to an emergency, all persons with disabilities should register with the Coordinator of Disability Support Services or Human Resources.

Revision history

This policy was approved as of: 5/1/2015

Next scheduled review: 5/1/2021


Issuing Office

Risk, Emergency Management and RISD Property Holdings

Responsible Officer

Vice President of Campus Services

Individuals/offices required for review and changes

Chief, Public Safety

Manager of Environmental Health and Safety

Director of Risk, Emergency Management and RISD Property Holdings

EOCT (Emergency Operations Command Team)