Emergency Terms

This document is pending incorporation into official UT Emergency Plan.

Emergency Guides and Resources

Campus Open

The University of Texas at Austin is observing normal operating hours and activities.

Campus Emergency

An emergency that threatens the campus will be announced by several communications means. One of these will be the Outdoor Warning System (Siren). When someone outside hears the siren at a time other than 11:50 a.m. on the first Wednesday of each month, they should immediately seek cover in the closest university building or facility. Campus emergency personnel will use other communication means to provide information on the correct protective action to take place in the interior of buildings.


"Shelter in place" is a directive to seek immediate shelter indoors following the announcement of an emergency condition. The act of sheltering in an area inside a building offers occupants an elevated level of protection. Sheltering can be related to a variety of situations, including: severe weather emergencies, hazardous condition, chemical release, or criminal activity.

Shelter-in-Place — Severe Weather

To shelter in place in the event of severe weather is the act of sheltering in an area inside a building that offers occupants an elevated level of protection during a tornado or other severe weather related emergency.

  • Go to the lowest level of the building, if possible.
  • Stay away from the windows.
  • Go to interior hallways.
  • Use arms to protect head and neck in a “drop and tuck” position.
  • Monitor Emergency Website for specific instructions.

Shelter-in-Place — Chemical, Biological or Radiological

A place of shelter is an area inside a building that offers occupants an elevated level of protection during an accident or intentional release of a chemical, biological or radiological agent.

Note: Many toxic chemicals have a vapor density greater than that of air, and will seek lowest ground. In the case of a shelter in place due to a chemical spill, do not shelter below grade. Follow instructions provided by emergency personnel.

  • Go inside the nearest building.
  • Close all doors, windows and other inlets from the outside.
  • Building Manager will shut down the fresh air intake or Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) System, if possible.
  • Monitor the Emergency Website for specific instructions.


The directive “lockdown” is used to stop access and/or egress as appropriate, to all or a portion of the buildings on campus. Unless otherwise directed, consider that all buildings will initiate their “Lockdown” procedures.

Building managers will:

  • Maintain logs of actions taken during emergencies and associated timelines during the event.
  • Monitor their pager or mobile device for additional information.
  • Notify occupants of the building that the building is now in a “lockdown” status per the Building Emergency Plan.
  • Secure all exterior doors, if safe (no harmful activity in your building). Note: Building Managers and their designates will work together on this.
  • Position one building representative at each exterior door (again, if safe). This representative will use their judgment to grant access to the building to persons they deem are non-threatening.  
    Note: If a threatening person moves toward the door, all will seek immediate shelter.
  • Notify the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at 512-232-7986 that their facility has been manually locked down.
  • Building Managers with the Building Access Control System (BACS) will contact ITS Security Operations to have their building locked down.  
    Note: University of Texas Police Department (UTPD) or a designated Campus Security representative can also contact Information Technology Services (ITS) Security Operations to initiate building(s) lockdown.

Should you discover that there is a violent or potentially violent person in your building or area, take the following steps:



  • Get out of the building as quick and safely as possible.
  • Notify your co-workers and others in the area of the situation using any means possible. (i.e., tell them directly, Public Address System (if available), telephone, etc.)
  • Call the University of Texas Police Department (UTPD) at 9-1-1 as soon as possible and provide as much information as possible to the police including:
    • request an ambulance for anyone who is injured
    • the location of the suspect
    • description of suspect, including name (if known), gender, race, height, hair color, clothing description, weapons seen or indicated, what they said, did they indicate a specific target, direction of travel if they have left, and other information the operator requests
    • building name and location
    • floor and room if possible
    • nature of business of the building (i.e. science labs, research labs, fine arts, registrar’s office, etc.)
    • any hazardous materials that may be present in the building – if known


  • Take shelter in the nearest secured place, i.e. classroom or office.
  • Exterior doors should be locked when the alert is given.  Barricade the doors with whatever objects are accessible.
  • Turn off the lights and silence all cellphones.


  • As a last resort and only when your life is in imminent danger
  • Attempt to incapacitate the violent individual
  • Act with physical aggression and throw items at the violent individual

If the threat is outside your building:

  • If the doors are not electronic and it is safe to move to the exterior doors, lock them.
  • If safe, leave a person at the door to let others (non-threatening) coming from outside into the building.
  • Close interior doors. Lock doors if possible. Barricade the doors.
  • If the lights in the room can be turned off - turn them off; turn off computers, silence mobile phones, radios, or any device that may indicate the room is occupied.
  • Use mobile phones only to notify law enforcement of critical information.
  • If on the first floor, close any blinds or curtains on windows.
  • Stay away from doors and try to keep out of the line of sight of windows.
  • Sit or lie on the floor or crouch behind or under desks. Be as invisible as possible.
  • DO NOT respond to anyone at the door while you are in lockdown mode.  
    Law enforcement will announce themselves prior to unlocking any door.  
    Confirm if possible. They will release anyone in that room when it is safe.  
    Updated information may be delivered over the PA System, when appropriate, if available in the building.
  • If you are directed to leave your secured area by police, do so as quickly and quietly as possible and follow their specific directions. Assist those who may require help moving.
  • Should the fire alarm be activated during a lockdown, wait for direction on the PA System or from the police before evacuating the building if there is no immediate danger. If there is smoke or fire present, you may need to evacuate. Ensure it is as safe as possible before attempting to evacuate.
  • USE MOBILE PHONES ONLY TO NOTIFY LAW ENFORCEMENT OF EMERGENCY INFORMATION. Mobile phones may interfere with emergency communications. Police, fire and ambulance radio systems can be negatively impacted by high mobile phone volume. The only exception to the above is in the event of a medical emergency in your immediate area, or if you have information specific to the current threat.

If you are outside the building when a lockdown is initiated:

  • Move as far away as possible from the building under lockdown.
  • Await further direction from law enforcement personnel.
  • Otherwise, go to a safe area of campus away from the scene.
  • Check the University's Emergency Website for updates and further information as it becomes available.
  • Do not call anyone inside the building that is in lockdown as it may endanger them.
  • Information updates will be provided by police and university officials as soon as possible and safe to do so.
  • If you are advised by another person in your area, or by law enforcement, that there is a violent or a potentially violent person in your area, follow the above steps.
  • DO NOT LEAVE YOUR SAFE AREA until the police have opened the door with a master key to release you from your safe area.

Building and Classroom Evacuation

All occupants of buildings on The University of Texas campus are required to evacuate the building when a fire alarm and / or an official announcement is made indicating a potentially dangerous situation within the building.

Building Evacuation

  • Evacuate the facility upon hearing the alarm or by an official announcement and follow the Building Emergency Plan.
  • Close office doors, turn off lights and computers.
  • Use designated corridors and fire exit stairs that lead to ground level.
  • Leave the building in an orderly manner.
  • Do not use elevators.
  • Assemble in designated areas per the Building Emergency Plan.
  • Follow instructions of fire and other first responders.
  • Upon reaching the ground level, stay at least 300 feet (1 block) from the building.
  • Report to emergency responders any individuals left in the building.
  • Do not re-enter the building until an "All Clear" is given by emergency officials.

Classroom Evacuation

The classroom instructor is the senior representative of the university and they are responsible to implement university policy and directives.

  • Every member of the university community shall be familiar with the Emergency Policy and Procedures and understand his or her role in these emergency situations.
  • University faculty members and teaching staff are responsible for the orientation of emergency procedures and evacuation routes to the students at the beginning of each semester. This includes pointing out their specific classroom's building emergency evacuation routes and exit doors. Remember that the nearest exit routes may not be the same as the way they typically enter buildings.
  • In the event of a fire or other emergency, it may be necessary to evacuate a building rapidly. Upon the activation of a fire alarm or the announcement of an emergency in a university building, all occupants of the building are required to evacuate and assemble outside.
  • If a Lockdown is announced, implement lockdown procedures as listed above.
  • Once evacuated, no one may re-enter the building without instruction to do so from the Austin Fire Department, University of Texas at Austin Police Department, or the Fire Prevention Services.
  • Students requiring assistance in evacuation shall inform their instructors in writing during the first week of class. Faculty members must then provide this information to the Fire Prevention Services by fax (512-232-2759).
  • Faculty and instructional personnel should be prepared to give appropriate instructions in the event of an evacuation. Students should follow the instructions of faculty members and class instructors during emergency evacuations.
  • We can most effectively prepare for and cope with emergencies by working together. Thus, everyone has a duty to ensure other occupants of university buildings are aware of emergencies, and to aid anyone requiring assistance in evacuation.
  • People should only provide this aid to the best of their abilities, however, and no one is expected to endanger themselves in order to assist with the evacuation of others.
  • Information regarding emergency evacuation routes and emergency procedures can be found on the Emergency Website.

Classroom Instruction and Recommended Syllabus Information

To implement policy and / or the Lockdown procedures and reinforce building evacuation procedures, each faculty member shall provide the following information and instructions to students:

  • Occupants of buildings on The University of Texas at Austin campus are required to evacuate buildings when a fire alarm is activated or an official announcement is given.
  • Evacuation procedures require orderly exiting and assembly outside.
  • Familiarize yourself with all exit doors of each classroom and building you may occupy. Remember that the nearest exit door may not be the one you used when entering the building.
  • Students requiring assistance in evacuation shall inform their instructor in writing during the first week of class.
  • During an evacuation — follow the instructions of faculty or class instructors.
  • Do not re-enter a building unless given instructions by the following: Austin Fire Department, The University of Texas at Austin Police Department, or the Fire Prevention Services.

Restricted Access (Vehicle or Buildings or Area)

An announcement of Restricted Access in reference to a specific building or an area of the campus requires the University Police or other law enforcement agencies to stop entry of pedestrians or vehicles into that area. When required, the office of Facilities Services will dispatch vehicles to block roadways with university service vehicles.

Campus Closed

When “campus closed” is announced, only those employees identified as essential will remain on campus. All other faculty, staff, and students will depart campus. No one should return until a returning procedure is announced. Continue to monitor the Emergency Website for updates. Campus shuttles will be stopped and passengers will be returned to their boarding location.