If an emergency threatens the safety of those outside a uOttawa building, people in the threatened area may be instructed to shelter-in-place.

What is shelter-in-place?

Shelter-in-place requires that you take refuge by remaining inside the building you’re in when the emergency occurs. If you’re outside when the emergency takes place, seek shelter from the hazard by entering the nearest building.


  • Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.
  • If there’s danger of an explosion, close all window coverings (shades, blinds, curtains, etc.).
  • Turn off all fans, vents and heating and air conditioning systems, and close any fireplace dampers.
  • In the event of a weather-related hazard or a natural disaster, take refuge in a small interior room with few or no windows; basement levels are ideal.
  • In case of a chemical threat, an above-ground location is preferable because chemicals that are heavier than air may seep into the basement, even with the windows closed.
  • Try to have a working radio, phone or internet device available so you can stay updated; hard-wired phones are preferable because they’re more reliable than cell phones.
  • Most shelter-in-place orders last only a few hours, but you should have your emergency kit with you just in case.


  • Don’t evacuate the area until it’s declared safe to do so by campus authorities.
  • Don’t use your cell phone unless you’re reporting an emergency or it’s absolutely necessary; using cell phones increases the demand on cellular network towers, and emergency responders and those in need of immediate assistance will be relying on those towers.

When is shelter-in-place necessary?

Emergencies that require shelter-in-place include:

  • severe weather
  • earthquakes
  • releases of dangerous goods into the area outside the building you’re occupying, such as chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear contaminants.

KNOW YOUR BUILDING! Find the safest spots for shelter-in-place near the locations you frequent most.

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