Sheltering Procedures

Identifying Emergency Shelter or Refuge Locations

When fleeing from danger is not possible, it is important to know and test your shelter and defense options ahead of time.  Within your home or workplace, evaluate, test and add sheltering options within your emergency response plans.  Keep in mind, a critical incident may impede access to these locations. Test and identify several locations when possible.


Shelter in Place - Chemical, Environmental Hazards, or Fire 

There may be situations when sheltering in place is the safest option. These situations may include a hazardous materials release, dangerous air quality, an explosions or chemical spill. If a shelter in place order is given, guide your building occupants to safety using the following steps.

Selecting a shelter in place location:

  • Select a small, interior room, with no or few windows.
  • TEST DOOR LOCKS: Choose a room where exterior doors and windows can completely close and can be locked.
  • TEST COMMUNICATIONS: It is ideal to have a hard-wired telephone in the room you select (cell phone equipment may be overwhelmed, damaged in an emergency, or have a weak signal due to an interior setting). Test your cell phone ahead of time.
  • Turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems.
  • Inspect emergency kits and supplies. 
  • If available, tune an FM radio to 88.1 or web page to for updates on the situation and the 'all-clear' message.
  • Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to seal gaps in windows or doors to create a barrier between yourself and any contamination.
  • Place a safety and first aid kit in your shelter locations.


Secure In Place - Workplace Violence or Active Shooter Sheltering

Report suspicious situations or persons to campus police.  Be familiar with your building. In advance, determine which rooms provide optimal security.  Identify multiple rooms.  Incorporate this information in your Building Emergency Coordinator Plans.

When possible, seek rooms that can be locked, sealed, have no windows, hardened wall structures, and heavy furniture for blocking doors or gun fire. Select a room with a land line telephone or clear cell phone reception (note: cell towers may be overwhelmed or damaged during emergencies).

When in danger, prepare to Run, Hide, or Fight.

First, RUN: Escape as soon as a threat is apparent.

HIDE: Secure In Place

Selecting a Secure In Place Location:

  • No windows, or few windows.
  • Reinforced walls (concrete versus drywall). If reinforced walls are not an option, 
  • Select a room with heavy furniture for slowing access through doors, windows, or gun fire. Push the furniture to block doors, windows, or walls facing the threat.
  • TEST DOOR LOCKS: Choose a room where exterior doors and windows can be completely closed and locked.
  • TEST COMMUNICATIONS: Land line, voice over Internet protocol phone in the room, and cell phone reception. Cell phone equipment may be overwhelmed or damaged in an emergency. Test your cell phone at these locations ahead of time.
  • When possible, place emergency kits and supplies in your secure in place. 

Once in the room:

  • Lock all doors.
  • Turn off lights.
  • Close blinds.
  • Barricade doors and walls with furniture.
  • Silence cell phones.
  • Do not congregate in one portion of the room.
  • Avoid areas that can be seen from outside the room.
  • Identify defense mechanisms (fire extinguisher, chairs, scissors, etc)


  • Use any object that will serve to stop the attacker. If the doorway cannot be secured, quickly plan with others to stage near the entry. Tackle and pin the attacker when they pass through. Grab the weapon and push it to the ground. Protect yourselves!
  • When police arrive, verify who they are, follow their instructions and keep your hands visible.
  • If you are the victim of, are involved in, or a witness to any violation of the law such as assault, robbery, theft, overt sexual behavior, etc. call Police as soon as possible.  If safe, wait for Police in order to provide them with more information.

For active shooter response training, contact UCSC Police Department.

Areas of Rescue or Refuge - Shelter for Persons with Disabilities or Immobile from Injury

During fire or active shooter events, elevators are inoperable and deterred from use, respectively.  Access to reaching shelter locations may be hindered for some individuals. 

Many contemporary buildings offer compliant and labeled rescue or refuge locations.  Note these locations in your building evacuation plans.  Often, older buildings will not have compliant rescue or refuge areas. In these buildings, it is still possible to identify "potential" refuge or rescue locations. 

Identify potential areas of rescue or refuge and include them in your Building Emergency Coordinator Plan:

Selecting an Area of Refuge or Rescue Location:

  • Identify compliant and signed refuge or rescue locations (where applicable).
  • Apply location standards for hazards, fire or active shooter identified above (see previous lists).
  • Near a primary building exit - a stairwell or hallway.
  • TEST COMMUNICATIONS: Test cell phone reception. If cell phones do now work in this location, have the evacuation assistant call 911 for rescue.  
  • Away from windows or open visibility (especially for violent events).
  • Adequate lighting.
  • Establish emergency evacuation assistants for persons who self identify or request immediate evacuation assistance. (See Evacuation and Emergency Planning Preparedness for People with Disabilities)