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Emergency Notification and Response

Scope: Undergraduate and Graduate Students are covered by this policy.


Emergency Notification and Response


In the event of an emergency, contact Miami University Police at 911 to initiate the Emergency Messaging System.

Emergency Messaging System – Notification of an Immediate Threat

Miami University has developed emergency procedures, and the University will initiate and provide, without delay, immediate notifications to the appropriate segment(s) of the University community upon the confirmation of a significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of students, employee and visitors.  The content of the notification will vary depending on the situation. At a minimum, the notification will describe the emergency, provide basic instructions to the community and will direct them to where they can receive additional information.

Miami University maintains multiple systems for alerting the Miami community about campus emergencies and will use some or all of those systems, depending on the circumstances. The university provides emergency notification services via text messages, VoIP telephones, university-owned computer screens, digital screens, emergency call tower speakers and email. If any of these systems fail or the University deems it appropriate, in-person communication may be used to communicate an emergency.

These notices also post to the University home page, portal, and police page. Miami student, faculty, and staff email addresses are automatically entered into the Miami Emergency Notification System. Cell phone numbers for current students, staff and faculty are also auto-entered into the Emergency Notification System.

To update one’s data or to opt-out of text messages, individuals must log into the Emergency Notification System service through .

In addition, in the case of an emergency, the University can activate an alert service on its telephone system to send notice to all administrative phones on one or all campuses. The University may also elect to alert the media. All Miami University Police vehicles are equipped with bullhorns.

Emergency messaging will primarily be used only for those situations that pose an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or employees on campus or for the closing of an entire campus (i.e., severe weather, chemical spills, fires, and crimes). Messages about criminal activity generally will not be sent using these systems unless it is decided there is an imminent threat of danger. In those cases where a crime has been reported; and University Police determine that, although there is no immediate threat, the crime represents a serious or ongoing threat to the campus community, a Safety Bulletin will be issued as described above.

The Emergency Messaging System is provided in addition to existing emergency notification procedures and does not replace or eliminate any other emergency notification system (e.g., fire alarms, tornado sirens).

Miami will generally provide follow-up information to the campus community as appropriate via the University’s website and/or social media and has a system to email the landlords of Oxford students if appropriate. Miami University also provides information to parents via the Parents Office, which may choose to send emails and/or post information on the Parents Office website, depending on circumstances.

Emergency Response Procedures

Miami University maintains the Miami University Emergency Response Plan that outlines responsibilities of campus units during emergencies. This plan outlines incident priorities, campus organization and specific responsibilities of particular units or positions.  University units are responsible for developing emergency response and continuity of operations plans for their areas and staff. Campus emergency management provides resources and guidance for the development of these plans.

The Office of Environmental Health and Safety, the Miami University Police, and the University News and Communications Office receive information from various offices and departments on campus. If the Miami University Police or one of these offices confirms there is an immediate threat to the health or safety of some or all of the members of the campus community, the Miami University Police and the University News and Communications Office will determine the content of the message and either or both entities will use some or all of the methods described above to communicate to the campus community or appropriate segment of the campus community.

The Emergency Messaging System may be initiated from on–campus and from remote locations. Miami will, without delay and taking into account the safety of the community, determine the content of the emergency message and initiate the Emergency Messaging System, unless issuing a message will, in the judgment of the Miami University Police or other responsible authorities, compromise efforts to assist a victim or to contain, respond to, or otherwise mitigate the emergency situation. For guidance on response to a variety of potential dangers, see Emergency Procedures.

Additional Communication

In the event of a significant on-campus emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of students, faculty, or staff, the University will also post information on its homepage. The University has access to an off-campus back-up server in the event the University’s computing services fail during an emergency.

University News and Communications is charged with notifying the media in the event of an emergency. Updated information will be posted to the University’s website and provided to the media.

Annual Publication

General information about the University’s response and evacuation procedures is publicized each year as part of its Campus Safety Report, which is published as part of its compliance with the Clery Act. The University also publicizes a summary of the emergency response and evacuation procedures via email at least once each year in conjunction with a test (exercise and drill) that meets all of the requirements of the Higher Education Opportunity Act.

Annual Testing of Emergency Response and Evacuation Procedures 

In conjunction with other emergency agencies, the University conducts emergency response drills and exercises each year, such as tabletop exercises, field exercises, and tests of the emergency notification systems on campus. These tests, which may be announced or unannounced, are designed to assess and evaluate the emergency plans and capabilities of the institution.

The Office of Environmental Health and Safety and the Miami University Police are responsible for testing the University’s emergency response and evacuation procedures at least once per year. These tests may be announced (as in the case of the residence hall fire safety program) or unannounced (as in the case of emergency preparedness drills). The Office of Environmental Health and Safety is responsible for maintaining documentation for each test, including a description of the exercise, the date, time and place of the exercise, and whether the drill was announced or unannounced.

Useful Information in the Event of Emergencies

Emergency Assistance: 911

Criminal Activity – Report to Miami University Police (513)529-2222

Call 911 if you observe a crime in progress or behavior that you suspect is criminal. Do not approach or attempt to apprehend person(s) involved. Report information, including:

  1. What the person is doing
  2. Location
  3. Physical and clothing description
  4. Weapons or tools
  5. Vehicle description, license number
  6. Direction of travel when last seen

Stay on the phone with the police dispatcher until instructed otherwise.

Medical Emergency

  1. Do not move a seriously injured person unless the person is in a life-threatening situation.
  2. Remain with victim, if possible. Send someone to call 911. Report:
  3. Victim’s location
  4. Is the victim conscious? Breathing? Bleeding?
  5. Victim’s injuries
  6. Chemicals or radioactive materials involved?


  1. Activate the fire alarm if you discover fire or smoke.
  2. Call 911. Report:
  3. Name
  4. Building
  5. Floor and room number
  6. If the fire is beyond control or involves potentially explosive materials, immediately evacuate the building.
  7. Close doors and windows as you leave. Leave lights on. Do not use elevators. Walk, do not run, to the nearest stairway and proceed to ground level.
  8. Feel doors before opening. If a door is hot, do not open. Backtrack to an alternate evacuation route.
  9. Alert other building occupants by loudly knocking on doors and yelling “FIRE” on your way out.
  10. If you encounter smoke, stay low. Crawl if necessary.
  11. Continue the evacuation if the alarm sound stops, and warn others who may attempt to enter the building.
  12. Move to a safe location and leave clear access for emergency personnel. Do not return to the building until instructed by Department of Safety staff.
  13. Someone familiar with the situation and who knows the area involved should meet the fire department. Immediately inform them if someone may be inside the building.

If clothing is on fire:

  1. Stop, drop, and roll. Do not run.
  2. Smother flames by wrapping in a blanket, rug, coat, etc.

If you become trapped in a building:

  1. Find a room with a window. Enter and close the door.
  2. If smoke begins to enter around the door, seal with rags, tape, or other material.
  3. Call 911. If no phone is available, signal from a window.
  4. Shout at regular intervals to alert emergency personnel of your location.

Evacuation of People with Disabilities

Know your surroundings and plan for emergencies. If an emergency occurs, someone should notify firefighters or police that individuals with disabilities need to be evacuated.

Ambulatory Disability

  1. Proceed to the nearest stairway with an escort and await assistance from an emergency response team (e.g., fire department).
  2. Do not use elevators unless directed to do so by the emergency response team.
  3. If stairway becomes smoke-filled or unsafe, go to another stairway.

If this is not possible, find a room with a window, close the door, and call 911. If no phone is available, signal from a window and shout at regular intervals to alert emergency personnel of your location.


  1. An escort may be beneficial.
  2. Evacuate with other building occupants.

Shelter-in-Place Procedures –What it Means to “Shelter-in-Place”

If an incident occurs and the buildings or areas around you become unstable, or if the air outdoors becomes dangerous due to toxic or irritating substances, it is usually safer to stay indoors, because leaving the area may expose you to that danger. Thus, to “shelter-in-place” means to make a shelter of the building that you are in, and with a few adjustments this location can be made even safer and more comfortable until it is safe to go outside.

Basic “Shelter-in-Place” Guidance

If an incident occurs and the building you are in is not damaged, stay inside in an interior room until you are told it is safe to come out. If your building is damaged, take your personal belonging (purse, wallet, access card, etc.) and follow the evacuation procedures for your building (close your door, proceed to the nearest exit, and use the stairs instead of the elevators). Once you have evacuated, seek shelter at the nearest University building quickly. If police or fire department personnel are on the scene, follow their directions.

How You Will Know to “Shelter-in-Place”

A shelter-in-place notification may come from several sources (e.g. Miami University Police Department, Housing Staff members, other University employees,  local law enforcement, or other authorities utilizing the University’s emergency communications tools).

How to “Shelter–in-Place”

No matter where you are, the basic steps of shelter-in-place will generally remain the same. Should the need ever arise, follow these steps, unless instructed otherwise by local emergency personnel:

  1. If you are inside, stay where you are. Collect any emergency shelter-in-place supplies and a telephone to be used in case of emergency. If you are outdoors, proceed into the closest building quickly or follow instructions from emergency personnel on the scene.
  2. Locate a room to shelter inside. It should be:
    1. An interior room;
    2. Above ground level; and
    3. Without windows or with the least number of windows. If there is a large group of people inside a particular building, several rooms maybe necessary.
  3. Shut and lock all windows (tighter seal) and close exterior doors.
  4. Turn off air conditioners, heaters, and fans.
  5. Close vents to ventilation systems as you are able.
  6. Make a list of the people with you and communicate that information to law enforcement so they know where you are sheltering.
  7. Turn on a radio or TV and listen for further instructions.
  8. Make yourself comfortable.



  1. Tornado watch and tornado warning conditions
  2. Where tornado shelters are located in your building
  3. When to initiate appropriate emergency procedures

Tornado Watch – Weather conditions are right for a tornado to occur, but none have been sighted.

  1. Notify others in your area that a tornado watch is in effect.
  2. Monitor the weather with radio or television.
  3. Note when the watch is in effect. Be prepared for an announcement that cancels or upgrades the watch to a warning.

Tornado Warning – A tornado has been sighted in the vicinity.

  1. Remain calm. Proceed to your designated shelter area. If the building has no basement, go to the lowest level to a room or hallway away from windows. Restrooms, located near the center of the building and without windows, may provide good shelters.
  2. Stay in the shelter until the warning is lifted.
  3. Stay away from windows, and do not go outside. Flying debris can result in serious injury.

Tornado – A tornado strikes.

  1. Curl up on the floor, face down, and cover your head with your arms and hands. If you are outdoors, curl up in a drainage ditch or low-lying area.
  2. After the tornado, if the building is damaged, implement evacuation.
  3. Assist those with injuries. Follow Medical Emergency procedures.

Active Shooter – Shelter-In-Place Guidance

If you find yourself involved in the very rare event of an active shooter situation, try to remain calm and use these guidelines to help you plan a strategy for survival.

If an active shooter is outside your building, go to a room that can be locked, close and lock all the windows and doors, and turn off all the lights; if possible, get everyone down on the floor and ensure that no one is visible from outside the room. Call 911 and inform the dispatcher of your location; remain in place until the police or a campus administrator known to you gives the “all clear.” Unfamiliar voices may be the shooter attempting to lure victims from their safe space; do not respond to any voice commands until you can verify that they are being issued by an official. Likewise, do not leave the room if the fire alarm is activated unless you can see smoke and flames and judge the fire to be a greater risk than the shooter.

If an active shooter is in the same building you are, determine if the room you are in can be locked and if so, follow the same procedures described above. If your room cannot be locked, determine if there is a nearby location that can be reached safely and secured, or if you can safely exit the building. If you decide to move from your current location, be sure to follow the instructions outlined below.

If an active shooter enters your office or classroom, try to remain calm. Dial 911, if possible, and alert police to the shooter’s location; if you cannot speak, leave the line open so the dispatcher can listen to what’s taking place. If there is no opportunity for escape or hiding, it might be possible to negotiate with the shooter. Attempting to overpower the shooter with force should be considered a last resort.

No matter what the circumstances, if you decide to flee during an active shooting situation, make sure you have an escape route and plan in mind. Do not attempt to carry anything while fleeing and leave coats and jackets behind so the police can easily see you are not armed; move quickly, keep your hands visible, and follow the instructions of any police officers you may encounter. Do not attempt to remove injured people; instead, leave wounded victims where they are and notify authorities of their location as soon as possible. Do not try to drive off campus until advised it is safe to do so by police or campus administrators.


During a major earthquake, you may experience shaking that starts out gentle, but quickly grows violent and knocks you off your feet or you may be jarred by a violent jolt (as though a building was hit by a truck), feel shaking, and have difficulty moving about.

During the Quake

  1. Indoors– get under a desk or table or stand in a doorway or corner. Stay clear of windows, bookcases, mirrors, and fireplaces. If possible, extinguish open flames or ignition sources. Do not use elevator.
  2. Outside– stay in an open area away from trees, buildings, walls, and power lines.
  3. Crowded public place– do not rush to doors. Move away from objects that could fall.
  4. Driving– pull over and stop. Avoid overpasses and power lines. Stay inside the vehicle until shaking stops. If the earthquake was severe, do not attempt to cross damaged bridges, overpasses, or damaged sections of road.

After the Quake

  1. Check for injuries. Implement Medical Emergency procedures. If items can be moved by hand, help people who are trapped.
  2. Use phone only to report serious injury, fire, or gas leak. If phone is not operating, go to the Police Services Center or the Emergency Operations Center (if identified).
  3. If natural gas is leaking, extinguish all sources of ignition, and do not turn on or off any electrical switches in the area.
  4. Attempt to block off damaged areas until help can arrive.
  5. Do not touch downed power lines or damaged building equipment.
  6. Implement Chemical Spill procedure if necessary.
  7. If your building is damaged, evacuate and attempt to secure building against re-entry.
  8. If you have a radio or cellular phone (and batteries and chargers), take with you.
  9. Turn on a battery-powered radio for damage information.
  10. Keep streets clear for emergency vehicles. Do not drive a vehicle unless there is an emergency.
  11. Be prepared for aftershocks (usually smaller than the main quake, but may cause additional damage to weakened structures).

Hazardous Gas Odor (flammable, toxic, corrosive, oxygen, cryogenic)

Natural Gas Odor

Odorant, added to natural gas, can be detected at extremely low concentrations. Smelling natural gas does not necessarily constitute an immediate hazard. If gas odor is detected:

  1. Call 911.
  2. Report:
  3. Name and phone number
  4. Building and room number
  5. Area of odor
  6. How long odor has been noticed

Compressed Gas Cylinder

If a cylinder is leaking, and in the judgment of the person responsible for the cylinder, the valve cannot be closed, and an immediate hazard exists:

  1. Turn on any exhaust ventilation and close all doors when exiting laboratory or shop.
  2. Call 911. Report:
  3. Name and phone number
  4. Building
  5. Room number where cylinder is located
  6. Name of gas leaking
  7. Implement building evacuation. Move to a safe distance and leave clear access for emergency personnel. Do not return to the building until instructed by Department of Safety staff.

Utility Failure

Immediately report utility failure:

Oxford campus

Water, electricity, natural gas           (513) 529-6111

(evenings, weekends, holidays)       (513) 529-2222

Hamilton campus

Water, electricity, natural gas           (513) 785-3079

(evenings, weekends, holidays)       (513) 785-3222

Middletown campus

Water, electricity, natural gas           (513) 727-3333

Voice of America Learning Center

Water, electricity, natural gas           (513) 895-8862

(evenings, weekends, holidays)       (513) 780-8862


  1. Name and phone number
  2. Building
  3. Floor and room number
  4. Problem

If you cannot see exit corridors, locate exit stairs or doors and evacuate the building while emergency lights are on. Do not enter the building until power is restored. Emergency lighting is temporary and will not support building operations.

Workplace Violence

Miami University is committed to promoting and maintaining a safe working and learning environment for its employees and students. Threatening, intimidating, or violent behavior will not be tolerated. If such conduct occurs, it should be promptly reported to the proper authorities (police and/or appropriate personnel office) and will be investigated.

Persons found to have violated this policy will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination in accordance with the appropriate collective bargaining agreement, classified civil service rules, and/or University disciplinary policy.

Any person who is the victim of threatening or violent conduct in the workplace, or who observes such behavior, or who believes a credible threat of such behavior exists is expected to immediately report the conduct to the proper authorities (police and/or appropriate personnel office). Those who, in good faith, make such reports will be protected from retaliation.

Related Form(s)

Not Applicable.

Additional Resources and Procedures



Not Applicable.

Policy Administration

Next Review Date


Responsible Officer

Associate Vice President and Dean of Students

Legal Authority

The Clery Act

Compliance Policy


Revision History

Amended July 2020

Reference ID

  • Student Handbook 4.9
  • Graduate Student Handbook 2.11

Reviewing Bodies

Associate Vice President and Dean of Students