TU Emergency Resources Guide

 The Emergency Resources Guide (PDF) provides recommended procedures for responding to emergencies including fires, damaging storms, civil disturbances, infrastructure failures and medical emergencies. Excerpted below are guidelines for situations that may apply to significant segments of the Towson University community.

Active Shooter

If you are involved in a situation where someone has entered the area and started shooting or you hear shooting, the following is a list of actions that are recommended.

It should be noted that these types of incidents are unpredictable. The guidelines listed below are recommendations that are based on past experiences; you may have to alter some of these suggestions, depending on the situation.

  • If safe to do so, exit the building immediately.
  • Seek shelter in a safe location and await instructions from Police or University officials
  • Notify anyone you may encounter to exit the building immediately.
  • Notify TUPD at 410-704-4444, x4-4444 from a campus phone or utilize an emergency blue light phone.
  • Give the TUPD police communications officer your name; location of the incident (be as specific as possible); number of shooters (if known); identification or description of shooter; number of persons who may be involved; and your location.

If exiting the building is not possible, the following actions are recommended:

  • Go to the nearest room or office.  If safe, allow others to seek refuge with you.
  •  Close and lock the door. If the door has no lock, barricade it with items available (desks, chairs, bookshelves etc.).
  •  Cover the door windows and turn off the lights.
  •  Keep quiet and act as if no one is in the room. Silence cell phones.  DO NOT answer the door.
  •  If you are in a common area such as a dining hall and you cannot get behind closed doors, find some form of concealment such as a table, chair or other available item and get under it. If possible, “buddy-up” with someone you know and stay together.
  • If you see police entering the room, make sure both of your hands are empty and visible so they will know you are not a threat to them.
  • Notify TUPD at 410-704-4444 or x4-4444 from a campus phone or utilize a Emergency Blue Light Phone and give the PCO your name; your location (be as specific as possible); the number of shooters (if known); identification or description of shooter; the number of persons who may be involved.
  • Treat the injured. Remember basic first aid.
  • If you find yourself in an imminent, life-threatening situation, use any means to disable, distract or as a last resort attack/disarm the shooter. DO NOT remain a stationary target!
  • Wait for Police Officers to assist you out of the building. 

Police Response

Police are trained to respond to an active shooting incident by entering the building as soon as possible and proceeding to the area of the shooter(s). Officers will move quickly and directly. Early in an incident, officers may not be able to rescue people because their main goal is to get to the shooter(s).

Involved persons need to try to remain calm and patient during this time so as not to interfere with police operations. Cooperate with officers who may ask you information concerning the incident. Normally, a rescue team is formed shortly after the first responding officers enter the building. They will be the officers who will search for injured parties and get everyone safely out of the building. Follow all directions given by the officers at the scene, or responding to the scene.

Criminal Activity: Shelter-in-Place

In the event of a criminal or violent act that has been committed at Towson University or in the adjacent areas near the campus, it may become necessary to shelter–in-place within campus buildings.

When notified by the Towson University Police Department to shelter-in-place due to criminal activity, these procedures will be followed:

  •  All students, faculty, staff and visitors will immediately seek shelter in the nearest room with a door (locking door if available). Faculty and staff, if safe to do so, are requested to provide direction and assistance to students and visitors by directing them to a location where they may seek shelter.
  •  Close and lock all windows and doors. If door has no lock, barricade with available items (desks, chairs, bookshelves, etc.).
  •  If possible, cover all interior windows and door windows.
  •  Stay away from all doors and windows, move to interior walls and try to remain out of sight of potential threats.
  •  Turn off all lights.
  •  Remain quiet.
  •  Do not leave until instructed by law enforcement personnel.
  •  Cooperate with law enforcement personnel; show them that you are not a threat by keeping your hands empty and visible when interacting with them. If possible, “buddy up” with someone you know; this assists law enforcement personnel when they are searching the area.
  •  Monitor cell phones registered to receive emergency alert text messages; monitor campus computer for emergency messages.
  •  Report suspicious persons or activities to TUPD – 410-704-4444 or x4-4444.
  •  If you are in an open area such as a dining area, seek concealment behind a solid object such as a door, file cabinet or counter area. Remain quiet and wait for law enforcement to arrive and assist you.
  •  If outdoors, follow emergency alert messages or directions from law enforcement personnel; stay away from the affected area. 

Fire Emergencies

University buildings will be immediately and totally evacuated whenever building fire alarms are sounding. If you see or suspect a fire, remain calm and activate fire alarms. Report fires by phone from safe places outside buildings.

  • Call 911 from any on-campus, off-campus or cell phone. At the emergency blue light and yellow phones located around campus, press the emergency button to be connected to the University Police who can contact 911 for you, or dial 911 on the keypad to be connected directly to the 911 center.
  • Notify TUPD – 410-704-4444 or x4-4444.
  • Give as much specific information as possible when emergency operators answer. Operators need to be told calls are for Towson University, what is burning – if known, the proper name, floor, and room number or other specific location information. Do not hang up unless it is unsafe or calls are released by emergency operators.
  • Report all fires, even if extinguished or found subsequent to being extinguished.
  • Report all fire alarms, even if they are suspected to be false or accidental.
  • If safe to do so, shut off all machinery and equipment in work areas.
  • Evacuate. Do not attempt to fight fires. Close doors and windows if time permits. Leave buildings at once using nearest exits or stairways. Do not use elevators. Close as many doors as possible between you and the fire. Use the backs of your hands to feel doors and doorknobs before opening doors. Do not open if the door or doorknob feels hot.
  • Crawl if there is smoke. Use secondary exits if primary exits are blocked.

If you are trapped:

  •  Stuff the cracks around doors with towels, lab coats, throw rugs, etc. to keep out as much heat and smoke as possible.
  •  Go to window and if there is no smoke or flames outside, open windows at the top. Signal for help by hanging a flag, (sheet, jacket, etc.), out of the windows.
  •  Use available telephones to notify TUPD – 410-704-4444 or x4-4444 – and let them know your exact location.
  •  Do not attempt to jump from multistory buildings. Do not re-enter buildings for any reason until fire or police officials say it is safe to do so.
  • Render reasonable assistance to disabled persons.
  • Gather at predesignated assembly areas.
  • Take roll and report missing or unaccounted for individuals to emergency responders.
  • Faculty and Staff are not expected to remain inside buildings to inspect and move people to exits; however, it is requested that Faculty and Staff, once safely outside, assist by moving people out of exits and away from the building so others can exit safely.

Evacuation Procedures – General 

When evacuating your building or work area:

  • Stay calm and do not rush or panic.
  • Safely stop your work.
  • Gather your personal belongings only if it is safe to do so. Reminder: take your prescription medications with you if at all possible; it may be hours before you are allowed back into the building.
  • If safe, close your office doors and windows and lock them for security reasons.
  • Use the nearest safe stairs and proceed to the nearest exit. Do not use the elevator. Proceed to the designated emergency assembly area unless the evacuation is for a bomb threat. In that case, assemble as directed by emergency responders.
  • Wait for instructions from emergency responders.
  • Do not re-enter the building or work area until you have been instructed to do so by the emergency responders.

Evacuation Procedures – Disabled Individuals

Persons who are either temporarily or permanently disabled to the extent their mobility is impaired are individually responsible for informing their supervisors and Environmental Health and Safety (410-704-2949 or x4-2949) of their name, building name, room number and nature of disability. This information will be placed on a list and given to the Baltimore County Fire Department during emergencies.

  • Co-workers may assist evacuating disabled persons only if this places them in no personal danger.
  • Never use elevators.
  • Always ask someone with a disability how you can help before attempting any rescue technique or giving assistance. Ask the individual how to best assist and whether there are any special considerations or items that need to come with the person.
  • Mobility impaired persons in wheelchairs on non-ground level floors should proceed to nearest enclosed stairwells and wait for the Baltimore County Fire Department to arrive. Someone should stay with the disabled person, if it does not place them in additional danger and someone should meet responding fire fighters to report the location of disabled persons.
  • Follow the instructions for being trapped if you cannot get to an enclosed stairwell. Visually impaired persons should have a sighted assistant to guide them to safety. Individually inform hearing-impaired persons of the emergency. Do not assume they know what is happening by watching others. 

Weather Emergencies: Shelter-in-Place

Everyone should pay attention to weather conditions, listen to the radio and television for weather alert information, or, if you receive an alert from Towson University, seek shelter immediately.

  • Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that advance warning is not possible
  • If warnings are issued or if you receive an alert that says “Weather Emergency: Shelter-In Place”, or if you see threatening weather approaching, seek shelter immediately.
  • If you are outdoors seek inside shelter immediately.
  • Do not try to outrun tornadoes in vehicles, but leave them and seek indoor shelter or low spots off the side of roads.
  • Once you get to, or if you are already in a building: move to safer areas, such as basements; if underground shelters are not available, move to interior rooms or hallways on the lowest floors and get under sturdy pieces of furniture; and stay away from windows.

Winter Storms

  • A winter storm warning means severe winter weather is imminent or very likely within 12 hours
  • A winter storm watch means at least four inches of snow in 12 hours, or six inches in 24 hours, or significant ice accumulations are possible within 24-48 hours.
  • A winter weather advisory means cold, ice and snow are expected to cause significant inconvenience and may be hazardous, but probably not life threatening.


  • A hurricane forecast means a hurricane (sustained winds greater than 74 mph) exists and may strike the area within 72 hours.
  • A hurricane watch means a hurricane may strike the area within 24-36 hours.
  • A hurricane warning means that a hurricane is expected within 24 hours or less.
  • A tropical storm watch means that a tropical storm (sustained winds 34-73 mph) exists and may strike the area in 36 hours or less.
  • A tropical storm warning means a tropical storm may strike the area within 24 hours or less.

Tornadoes and Thunderstorms

  •  A tornado watch means that tornadoes could develop in the designated area.
  •  A tornado warning means that a tornado has actually been sighted in the area or is indicated by radar.
  •  A severe thunderstorm watch indicates the possibility of thunderstorms, frequent lightning and/or damaging winds, hail and heavy rain.
  •  A severe thunderstorm warning means that a severe thunderstorm has actually been sighted in the area or is indicated by radar

Updated 7/13


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