Hazard-specific procedures

Many types of emergency can occur on a university campus, including fires, natural disasters and hazardous-material spills.

Explore this page to learn how you should respond to specific hazards.

Earthquake

If you’re indoors during an earthquake:

  • Remember to drop, cover and hold on!
  • Get under a table or desk, or against an inside wall; stay away from windows and overhead hazards.
  • Try to hold on to whatever is sheltering you.
  • Cover your head, neck and torso as much as possible.
  • If you’re in a wheelchair, lock your wheels and duck as low as possible.
  • Don’t stand in a doorway.
  • Don’t leave the building until it’s safe to do so; wait until several minutes have passed without aftershocks, then assess your surroundings to determine whether it’s safe to leave.
  • Evacuate the building with caution and avoid hazards like fallen ceiling tiles or lights, broken glass and major structural damage.
  • Don’t use elevators.
  • Don’t pull the fire alarm unless there is a fire; pulling the alarm without cause would prompt an uncontrolled evacuation and could expose people to unnecessary danger.
  • Don’t use cell phones or telephones except to report emergencies or injuries to Protection Services.
  • Wait for instructions from uOttawa officials or emergency responders.

If you’re outdoors during an earthquake:

  • Stay outside.
  • Move away from buildings, trees and power lines.
  • Avoid hazards.

If you’re driving during an earthquake:

  • Pull over and keep the road clear for emergency vehicles.
  • Stay in your vehicle until several minutes have passed without aftershocks.
  • Don’t stop under overhead structures such as bridges, overpasses and hydro wires .
Fire, smoke or gas

If you discover a fire:

  • Take your keys and immediately leave the danger area by the nearest safe exit and stairwell; don’t use elevators.
  • Close all doors along the way and warn others as you encounter them.
  • Activate the nearest manual fire alarm.
  • Gather at the designated meeting place outside.
  • If the fire alarm has not been activated, notify Protection Services from a safe location.
  • Obey all instructions from Protection Services, members of the Fire Alarm Evacuation Team or the Ottawa Fire Department.
  • Re-enter the building only when the Fire Alarm Evacuation Team or Protection Services officers have authorized you to do so.

If you smell smoke or gas, or hear a fire alarm:

  • Immediately stop all work, turn off all electrical equipment and open flames, and close windows.
  • Remain calm.
  • Don’t open the door fully right away; instead, open it slowly, keeping your head back in case there is fire in the immediate area.
  • Be cautious and leave the room only if it’s safe to do so.
  • Take your keys and head for the nearest safe exit and stairwell; don’t use elevators.
  • Close all doors on your way out.
  • If the fire alarm has not been activated, notify Protection Services from a safe location.
  • Gather at the designated meeting place outside.
  • Obey all instructions from the Fire Alarm Evacuation Team, Protection Services officers and the Ottawa Fire Department.
  • Re-enter the building only when the Fire Alarm Evacuation Team or Protection Services officers have authorized you to do so.

If you encounter smoke or fire in the corridor:

  • It may be safer to stay where you are; close the door and seal any windows or openings.
  • If possible, notify Protection Services, give them your exact location and follow their instructions.
  • Try to wave a light-coloured shirt or other material in the window so rescuers can easily find you.
  • Stay put until you are instructed to leave by Protection Services or other emergency responders.

If you encounter smoke in the stairwell:

  • Leave the stairwell as quickly as possible and find an alternate exit; if there isn’t one available, it may be safer to return to your room or office.
  • Close the door and seal any windows or openings.
  • If possible, notify Protection Services, give them your exact location and follow their instructions.
  • Try to wave a light-coloured shirt or other material in the window so rescuers can easily find you.
  • Stay put until you are instructed to leave by Protection Services or other emergency responders.

Important notes:

  • In most buildings, evacuation plans are located in entryways and beside elevators and stairwells.
  • Know where you’re supposed to gather outside the buildings you frequent.
  • Know where the fire exits, the nearest manual fire alarm and portable fire extinguishers are in the buildings you frequent.
  • Fire alarms are automatically activated when smoke or fire is detected.
  • If you see or suspect fire, find the nearest manual fire alarm and pull it.
  • Don’t pull a fire alarm for any other reason; it’s an offence to activate a fire alarm without cause.
  • Don’t try to put out a fire unless you can do so without endangering your life or someone else’s.
  • Notify Protection Services of all fires, even small ones extinguished by someone on campus.
  • Closed doors don’t always conduct heat well, so the temperature on your side of a door may be cooler than it is on the other side; so, open doors slowly, keeping your head back.
  • Use the buddy system if you need help leaving a building.
Hazardous materials

If chemical, radioactive, or biohazardous substances are spilled or released:

  • Notify Protection Services of any incident involving a chemical, radioactive or biohazardous substance, even if the situation has been resolved.
  • Don’t try to clean up a spill unless you have substance-specific spill-response training; if you’ve been trained, follow the protocols.
  • If you haven’t been trained:
    • Step away from immediate danger.
    • If it’s safe to do so, secure the spilled material to avoid further contamination.
    • If the material has spread in the air and inhalation is a hazard, move to an adjacent area and restrict access for 30 minutes to allow aerosols to settle.
    • If the material hasn’t spread in the air, stay in the area but find a spot where you aren’t at risk of additional exposure.
    • Don’t pull the fire alarm; doing so would cause an uncontrolled evacuation and could expose people to unnecessary danger.
    • Follow the instructions provided by Protection Services or other emergency responders, including instructions for decontamination, if necessary.
    • Don’t leave the scene until you’re advised to do so by Protection Services or other emergency responders.

Medical emergencies
    • Immediately notify Protection Services of the injury or illness.
    • If you’ve been trained to administer first aid, do so if it’s safe.
    • Follow the instructions provided by Protection Services or other emergency responders.
    • Stay at the scene until Protection Services advises you to leave.

     

    Suspected public health issue
    • Stay in your immediate area.
    • Notify Protection Services immediately.
    • Follow the instructions provided by campus authorities.
    • Stay where you are until campus authorities instruct you to leave.
    Criminal activity
    • Remove yourself from immediate danger.
    • If you can’t safely leave the area, avoid actions that might increase danger to yourself or others.
    • Pay attention to the criminals and make mental note of names, physical features (height, sex, clothing, special markings, etc.) and characteristics (accents, habits, type of weapons, who seems to be in charge if a group is involved, etc.).
    • If you’re being robbed, give the robber exactly what is demanded and nothing more.
    • Observe the direction in which the criminal leaves.
    • Notify Protection Services and provide as much information as possible about the situation.
    • Wait for Protection Services at the specified location, and follow instructions provided by them or by police.
    • If the criminal leaves evidence behind, don’t touch it.
    Alarming behaviour or suspicious persons
    • Report all suspicious behaviour to Protection Services, including in-person, written or electronic threats, even if the situation has been resolved.
    • Make mental note of names, physical features (height, sex, clothing, special markings, etc.) and characteristics (accents, habits, etc.).
    • When face-to-face with someone threatening, remain as calm as possible and do what you can to keep the offender calm.
    • Acknowledge the person’s feelings and perceptions; paraphrase what the person has expressed to show you have heard and listened.
    • If it’s safe to do so, write down what the person says.
    • Never confront or further agitate a threatening or violent person.
    • If the problem escalates, call Protection Services; even if it’s not safe to speak, you can leave the phone line open, and Protection Services will dispatch patrol officers.
    • Follow the instructions provided by Protection Services.
    • If the offender leaves, note in which direction.
    • If it’s possible and safe, stay at the scene until Protection Services advises you to leave.
    Suspicious package
    • Don’t touch or open suspicious-looking packages or envelopes.
    • If you’ve already opened or touched the package, stop moving it, place it gently on the nearest stable surface, step away from the package, and don’t touch any other items.
    • Don’t place the package in a confined space.
    • If it’s safe, stay in your immediate area.
    • If anyone working in your immediate area may have come into contact with the package or envelope, ask the person to also stay in the area if it’s safe to do so.
    • Notify Protection Services; if you’ve touched the package, have someone notify them for you.
    • Don’t undertake any activity that can create turbulence and spread potentially dangerous substances into the air.
    • Without further touching the package, examine it for:
      • misspelled words
      • markings such as “private,” “confidential” or “to be opened only by…”
      • incomplete address (a title rather than an individual’s name; a missing or an illegible return address)
      • odours or wires
      • excessive wrapping, powdery finish or oil stains
      • excessive weight
      • foreign postmarks.
    • Don’t evacuate the building unless you’re instructed by authorities to do so.
    • Don’t pull the fire alarm; doing so would cause an uncontrolled evacuation and could expose people to unnecessary danger.
    • Don’t allow others to enter the immediate area.
    • Wait for and follow instructions from Protection Services or other emergency responders.

    Severe weather

    Severe weather conditions for the uOttawa region include snow storms, ice and hail, lightening and extreme cold, and can generally be predicted in advance. Response decisions depend on the intensity and anticipated duration of the severe weather. Information is communicated as needed through normal uOttawa communications channels, including departmental emails and class or office announcements. Some extreme weather however, may be sudden and unexpected.

    In the event of a tornado:

    • Safely stop what you’re doing.
    • Don’t try to outrun or out-drive a tornado.
    • If you’re outdoors, go to the nearest building, taking care not to be hit by flying debris.
    • If you can, head for the basement; if there’s no basement, go to the centre of a room located in the centre of the building’s lowest level.
    • Where possible, take shelter under sturdy furniture (table, desk, etc.) in the centre of the room.
    • Don’t take shelter in elevators.
    • Stay away from corners, windows, doors and outside walls.
    • Use your hands and arms to protect your head and neck.
    • If there are no buildings nearby, lie as flat and as close to the ground as possible; use your hands and arms to protect your head and neck.
    • If you’re in a wheelchair, lock your wheels and duck as low as possible.
    • Stay in position until the tornado has passed, or until Protection Services or other emergency responders have indicated that the area is safe.
    • Follow any directions provided by Protection Services or other emergency responders.
    Flooding and significant water leaks
    • Notify Protection Services immediately of all significant* water leaks.
    • If it’s safe to do so, move vulnerable materials away from the water path.
    • If you’re inside, shut off and unplug electrical equipment wherever possible; Physical Resources Services will shut down power if necessary.
    • Move to a higher elevation or leave the area.
    • If you’re outside, stay away from flood waters and move to a higher elevation.
    • Be careful, because the water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage, or it could be electrically charged from an active power source.
    • Stay away from moving water; moving water as shallow as 15 cm (6 inches) deep can make you lose your footing.
    • Stay close by, but keep out of the way of emergency responders until Protection Services advises you to leave.
    • Follow the instructions provided by Protection Services or emergency responders.

    *For minor leaks where damage is unlikely (dripping faucets, running toilets, etc.), dial 2222 from your campus phone.

    Power failure

    Power failure in an office or classroom:

    • Directly notify the person in authority for your building; don’t simply leave a message.
    • If the person in authority can’t be reached, notify Protection Services.
    • Turn off lights, electrical equipment and appliances to prevent damage when the power returns.
    • Notify Protection Services if you know or suspect that someone is trapped in an elevator.
    • Stay inside and wait for further instructions from campus authorities.
    • Immediately report an unsafe situation to Protection Services.

    Power failure in a laboratory:

    • Stop all activities immediately.
    • Extinguish all controlled flames, and turn off the gas and water.
    • Secure and stabilize experiments that involve hazardous materials.
    • When fume hoods stop operating, stop experiments that are emitting hazardous vapours, cap all chemical containers that are safe to cap, and close the fume hoods.
    • Turn off or disconnect equipment with automatic power-on functions that may cause it to restart when the power returns.
    • Turn off or disconnect all other equipment safely.
    • Check equipment running on emergency power to ensure it’s working properly.
    • Don’t connect additional items to the power outlets.
    • Check refrigerated items and transfer anything vulnerable or critical to areas served by emergency power.
    • Check with your supervisor to see if you need to follow special procedures based on your activities.
    • Directly notify the person in authority for your building; don’t simply leave a message.
    • If the person in authority can’t be reached, notify Protection Services.
    • If it’s safe to do so, stay in the lab for 10 minutes before calmly exiting to the common areas of the building.
    • Follow the instructions provided by campus authorities.
    • Immediately report an unsafe situation to Protection Services.

    When power comes back on:

    • Reset and restart the equipment.
    • Confirm that fume hoods and refrigerators are operating; a manual start-up by Physical Resources Services may be required.
    Emergencies abroad
    • If an emergency occurs while you’re travelling abroad on uOttawa business, call Protection Services at 001-1-613-562-5411.
    • State your name, whether you’re a student or an employee, and the city and country you’re calling from.
    • Describe your emergency and follow the instructions from Protection Services or local authorities.
    Missing person
    • If you have reason to believe that a uOttawa student or employee is missing, contact Protection Services at 613-562-5499 to report your concern. 
    • We also recommend that a family member of the missing person discuss the situation with Ottawa Police Services at 613-236-1222.
    Back to top