Emergency procedures

6.1 - Learning outcomes

  • Identify which group to contact for more information and training on emergency response
  • Describe procedures to follow in the case of an emergency involving a hazardous product
  • Describe procedures to follow when a spill or other fugitive emissions are present

The University has official emergency response procedures. Do you know who to contact in case of emergency? Are you able to describe how emergency response planning works at the University of Ottawa?

6.2 - General emergency procedures

Emergency response planning, training and response groups work together to ensure a complete emergency response system.

  • The University has an emergency plan based on the Canadian Standards Association guidelines for emergency planning. The plan includes measures for natural disasters, human-made events and technological breakdowns such as network failures.
  • Training is an important component of emergency preparedness. WHMIS training is only one step in the training process. Further training is required for persons who work in laboratories to ensure they are aware of hazards in their work area and know how to react in the case of an emergency.
  • Key groups at the University have special functions during an emergency with specially trained personnel that coordinate response and communications in the event of an emergency.
  • uoAlert is the University’s emergency notification system. It is used to alert the community of potential danger on campus.

Visit the Are you Ready? web site for more information on emergency response.

6.3 - What to do in case of an emergency?

When using a University phone is, dial 5411 in the event of an emergency.

This enables Protection Service to trace your call and respond in with the fastest time possible. Protection Services will also activate a request for the required response teams to deal with the situation. If you’re using a cell phone or a public phone, dial 613-562-5411 or 911.

Note that calling 911 from a University phone will reach off-campus emergency services (i.e., civic authorities), but the origin of the call will not be traceable (will display the caller simply as the University of Ottawa). This means that police, fire department or paramedics will come to the campus but will NOT know the location of the emergency. In many cases, the 911 dispatcher will actually contact Protection Services to communicate that a call has been received for a certain area.

Remember, Protection Services is familiar with the building names, street names and landmarks on campus, whereas persons outside the University might not be so knowledgeable and not know how to find your location.

Roles and responsibilities

All professors, employees, students and volunteers are responsible for ensuring that they are aware of emergency procedures. In other words, everyone must ensure they know how to react even if it simply means calling Protection Services. Basic response includes evacuating your work area and knowing what to do if a hazardous product is spilled.


Proceed out of the building immediately when the fire alarm is triggered. You may also be asked to evacuate via uoAlert, by Protection Services or by an evacuation team member or building warden, who are trained to ensure each building is safely evacuated. These individuals can be recognized by their yellow hats and blue vests. If it is safe to do so quickly, make your immediate work area safe to the extent possible. Building occupants must gather at predetermined assembly point(s) as instructed and await further direction. Do not leave these areas unless instructed to do so. Protection Services will provide you with authorization to re-enter the building.


When there is a hazard outside your building (e.g., a large chemical spill), you are required to stay inside in order to remain safe. You will be notified to shelter-in-place via uoAlert, Protection Services or a building warden. Protection Services will advise you when it is safe to leave the building.


If a hazardous product spill endangers the occupants of an area, contact Protection Services. Typically, all persons working in laboratories are capable of cleaning up a hazardous product spill. If you’re working with a substance in a fume hood or at a lab bench, you will be familiar with the hazards associated with that product and should be able to clean it up in a safe manner. If a spill is too large for you to handle, contact Protection Services and be prepared to meet a Protection Services staff member in a safe location. Warn other personnel nearby. Spill Response Training is available through the Office of the Chief Risk Officer.

Learn more about what to do in emergency situations on the Are you ready? website.

6.4 - Specific emergency requirements

Users must be aware of emergency procedures in case something goes wrong when working with a hazardous product. The SDS is key to obtaining basic information about emergency response for a given product. Several sections of an SDS contain information that you must consult before working with each product.

Your supervisor will also inform you of any specific emergency procedures applicable in your work environment.