Emergency Procedures

Familiarizing yourself with the Dartmouth College Emergency Procedures (prepared by Environmental Health & Safety) is one of the most important ways you can be prepared for an emergency. The page provides the procedures and contact numbers, and you can download the full guide as a PDF here. You should also review our information on common hazards.

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Medical Emergencies

If someone is injured or becomes ill:

  • Stay calm
  • Dial 911 or call Safety and Security and explain the type of emergency, the location, condition, and number of victims.
  • Let the dispatcher know of any safety hazards - chemical spill, fire, fumes, etc.
  • Do not hang up unless told to do so by the dispatcher.
  • Do not move the victim unless there is danger of further injury if s/he is not moved.
  • Render first-aid or CPR only if you have been trained.
  • Do not leave the injured person except to summon help.
  • Comfort the victim until emergency medical services arrive.
  • Have someone stand outside the building to flag down the ambulance and/or Safety and Security when they reach the vicinity.

Bomb Threat

If you receive a bomb threat, remain calm and:

  1. Obtain as much information as possible:
    • Write down the number from where the call is coming.
    • Write down the exact time of the call.
    • Write down as accurately as possible the statements made.
    • Listen to the voice to determine the sex, age, accents, lisps, tone, etc. (Note any distinguishing features)
    • Listen for background noises.
    • If possible, try to signal for someone else to also listen on the telephone line.
    • Do not hang up and stay on the line a long as possible; wait for the caller to hang up.
  2. Keep the bomb threat caller talking, and ask as many questions of the caller as you can:
    • When will the bomb go off? How much time remains?
    • Where is the bomb located?
    • What does it look like?
    • What kind of bomb is it?
    • How do you know about this bomb?
    • Why was it placed here?
    • Who are you?
  3. Call 911 immediately and then the Department of Safety and Security at 603-646-3333 (6-3333 from campus phones).
  4. Have your notes from the call ready when responding officers arrive.

Shelter in Place/Safe Shelter

Shelter in place is useful when evacuation is not an option. Refuge is sought in an interior room with few or no windows. It may be necessary to shelter in place following the intentional or accidental release of chemical, biological, or radiological contaminants into the environment. Shelter in place may also be necessary in the event of a hostile intruder on campus. Shelter in place procedures will be initiated through the various notification systems used by Dartmouth.

  • Stop classes and/or other operations in the building.
  • If there are visitors in the building, provide for their safety by asking them to stay—not leave.
  • When public safety officials provide directions to shelter in place, they want everyone to take those steps immediately.
  • Close and lock all doors, windows, and other openings to the outside.
  • If necessary/possible, turn off heating or cooling system.
  • Turn to 99.3 FM, 99 ROCK on an AM/FM radio for updates.
  • Select interior room(s) above the ground floor with the fewest windows and vents. The room(s) should be large enough for everyone to sit comfortably and quietly. Use multiple rooms if necessary.
  • Lock the door to any rooms being used and draw the curtains/shades or cover the windows. You should not be visible from the outside or from the corridor.
  • Ideally, choose room(s) with hardwired telephones as cellular networks may be unavailable. Use these phones to report any emergencies.
  • Stay away from windows and doors.
  • In the event of a hostile intruder, remain absolutely quiet and follow steps outlined in the Hostile Intruder/Active Shooter section.
  • Remain calm and await further instructions.

DO NOT leave the room until directed to do so by a public safety official

Suspicious Packages/Objects

If you have any reason to believe that a letter or parcel is suspicious, DO NOT take a chance or worry about embarrassment. Call Safety and Security immediately at 603-646-4000.

  • DO NOT touch the package or object.
  • DO NOT tamper with the package or object.
  • DO NOT attempt to move the package or object.
  • DO NOT open the package or object.
  • DO NOT put the package or object in water or an enclosed space, such as a drawer or box.
  • Isolate the package or object and evacuate the immediate area.

Characteristics of Suspicious Packages

  • Special deliveries, foreign mail, or air mail
  • Restrictive markings such as Confidential or Personal
  • Excessive postage
  • Handwritten or poorly typed addresses
  • Incorrect titles
  • Misspelled words
  • Stains or discoloration on the package
  • Excessive weight
  • Rigid, lopsided, or uneven envelopes
  • Protruding wires or aluminum foil
  • Excessive tape or string
  • Visual distractions such as illustrations
  • No return address

Fire and Evacuation

In the Event of a Fire: Pull the Fire Alarm and Call 911

If you see smoke or flames:


  • Contain the fire by closing all doors as you leave.
  • Activate the nearest fire alarm pull station (pull stations are located near all building exits).
  • Report the fire by dialing 911.
  • Evacuate or extinguish (in most cases, it is best to evacuate).

Use a fire Extinguisher only if:

  • You have been trained.
  • You have your back to an unobstructed exit.
  • You have a fully charged and proper type unit for the fire you are fighting.
  • The fire is contained, and you have reported the fire by fire alarm or 911 activation.
  • Everyone else has left the area.
  • There is little smoke or flames.

Never fight a fire if:

  • You lack a safe way to escape should your efforts fail.
  • It has left its source of origin.
  • You are unsure of the type of extinguisher you need or have.

If you can't control the fire within 30 seconds, abandon your efforts, close the door(s) and evacuate immediately.

Building Evacuation

You should familiarize yourself with the evacuation routes posted in all campus buildings. If an evacuation order is issued for your building, or if it were necessary to evacuate due to an emergency, fully cooperate with Safety and Security/emergency personnel and:

  • Take only keys, wallets and essential belongings with you.
  • If possible wear weather appropriate clothing.
  • If you are the last one to exit your room, close and lock doors.
  • Leave the building immediately.
  • Do not investigate the source of the emergency.
  • Walk, don't run, to the nearest exit.
  • Use stairs, not elevators.
  • Assist people with special needs.
  • If there is no immediate danger, persons with disability/mobility limitations should shelter in place and call Safety and Security at 603-646-3333 (6-3333 from campus phones) to report location and number of people needing assistance.
  • If there is imminent danger and evacuation cannot be delayed, the person with a disability should be carried or helped from the building in the best and fastest manner (the person with the disability is the best authority as to how to be moved out of the building).
  • If you are unable to evacuate, call Safety and Security at 603-646-3333 (6-3333 from campus phones) and report your location.
  • As you make your way out, encourage those you encounter to exit as well.
  • Follow instructions of the Department of Safety and Security or other identified emergency personnel.

Hostile Intruder/Active Shooter

A hostile intruder situation can change rapidly.

Thinking through scenarios in advance can help you respond faster. A hostile aggressor could use a gun, a knife, or other means to try to hurt people. Take time to understand your surroundings and environment, then make a plan.  

During an active shooter or hostile intruder event, there are three choices you can make:  

1. Avoid

2. Deny

3. Defend

The Department of Safety and Security has staff available to teach small group workshops using this model. Call (603) 646-4000 to schedule the training. Watch a scenario using the concepts of Avoid, Deny, Defend:

Avoid Deny Defend video

Avoiding the threat starts with your state of mind. Pay attention to your surroundings. Have an exit plan; if the aggressor is inside your building, get out. Move away from the threat as quickly as possible, and tell anyone you may encounter to leave. The more distance and barriers between you and the threat, the better. Do not try to carry anything with you, keep your hands high and visible to any responding police officers.

Getting away may difficult or impossible. You may need to create a refuge space in the nearest room or office. Keep distance between you and danger. Lock the door or create barriers. Turn off lights and silence your phone. Stay out of sight by hiding behind large objects. Do not answer the door or respond to voice commands until you are sure they come from a rescuer.

You have the right to protect yourself. If you cannot Avoid or Deny, be prepared to DEFEND yourself. If the offender is about to enter to your space, call 911. If you can't speak, leave the line open so the dispatcher can listen to what's taking place. If you must fight, be aggressive and committed to winning. Do not fight "fairly"; this is about survival. Develop a plan of attack with others in the room, using whatever items are in the room as weapons.

When police arrive, they will pass any injured people and go to the area where gunshots were last heard. Keep your hands visible to officers. Tell them where the aggressor is, if you know. Stay where authorities tell you to go, until released. You will be a witness in a crime scene.

Check out our emergency procedures for info on other kinds of potential emergencies.

Utility Failures & Natural Disasters

Utility Failures

These may include electrical outages, plumbing failure/flooding, gas leaks, steam line breaks, ventilation problems, elevator failures, etc. Dartmouth's Facilities Operations and Management (FO&M) has procedures and personnel to deal with utility failures and resumption of service. For your personal safety, in the event of a utility failure:

  • Remain calm.
  • Immediately notify Safety and Security at 603-646-3333 (6-3333 from campus phones).
  • If the building must be evacuated, follow the instructions under the Building Evacuation section.
  • Unplug all electrical equipment (including computers) and turn off light switches.
  • Use a flashlight. Do not light candles or use other kinds of flames for lighting.
  • Laboratory personnel:
    • Secure all experiments, unplug electrical equipment, and shut off research gases prior to evacuating.
    • Close all fume hoods and chemical containers.
  • Elevators:
    • If passengers are trapped in an elevator, advise them to stay calm and tell them you are getting help.
    • If it is safe for you to stay in the building, stay near the passengers until assistance arrives.
  • If you are trapped in an elevator, help will be there soon:
    • Remain calm.
    • Use the call button or phone to call for help.
    • Do NOT try to climb out or exit the elevator without assistance.


Minor or area flooding on campus could occur as a result of a water main break, loss of power to sump pumps, or major multiple rainstorms. Safety and Security monitors the National Weather Service, and other emergency advisory systems to stay abreast of weather and alert related conditions and will provide instructions should they be necessary. For imminent or actual flooding, and only if you can safely do so:

  • Secure vital equipment, records, and other important papers.
  • If present in your area, report all hazardous materials (chemical, biological, and/or radioactive) to Safety and Security at 603-646-3333 (6-3333 from campus phones) or to Environmental Health and Safety at 603-646-1762 (6-1762 from campus phones).
  • Move to higher, safer ground.
  • Shut off all electrical equipment.
  • If in a lab, secure all laboratory experiments.
  • Do not attempt to drive or walk through flooded areas.
  • Wait for further instructions on immediate action from Safety and Security.
  • If the building must be evacuated, follow the instructions under the Building Evacuation section.
  • Do not return to your building if you have been evacuated by flooding until you have been instructed to do so by College personnel.
  • If you are assisting with flood cleanup, report immediately to Environmental Health and Safety any oil, chemical, or radioactive materials suspected of mixing with flood waters.


A Tornado Watch means that tornadoes could potentially develop. A Tornado Warning means a tornado has actually been sighted. If you see a tornado, report it immediately by calling 911, and seek shelter or safety:

  • Go to a basement, underground excavation, or lower floor of interior hallway or corridor (preferably a steel-framed or reinforced concrete building).
  • Seek shelter under a sturdy workbench or heavy furniture if no basement is available.
  • Listen for reports and siren/public address announcements.
  • Avoid:
    • Top floors of buildings
    • Areas with glass windows or doors
    • Auditoriums, gymnasiums, cafeterias, or other areas with large, free-span roofs
  • If out in the open:
    • Do NOT wait out the storm in a car; cars are not safe in tornadoes.
    • Move away from the path of the tornado at a right angle direction.
    • Lie flat in the nearest depression, ditch, or ravine if there is no time to escape.


Earthquakes are more common in the western United States, but they do occur in the New England area as well. In the event of an earthquake:

  • Stay away from large windows, shelving systems, or tall room partitions.
  • Get under a desk, table, door arch, or stairwell.
  • If none of these are available: move against an interior wall and cover your head with your arms.
  • Remain under cover until the movement subsides.
  • After the shaking stops, survey your immediate area for trapped or injured persons and ruptured utilities (water, gas, etc.).
  • If damage has occurred in your area, call Safety and Security immediately at 603-646-3333 (6-3333 from campus phones).
  • If it is safe to do so, remain at your location and await further instructions from College personnel.
  • Do not evacuate until instructed by emergency personnel.
  • Laboratory personnel:
    • Exit the lab to the corridor.
    • Duck and cover near an interior wall.
  • If out in the open:
    • Stay in an open area away from buildings, power lines, trees or roadways.
    • If in a car, pull over and stop. Do not park under an overpass or near a building.
  • Be cautious about driving again, in the event roads are damaged.
  • After an earthquake:
    • Put on enclosed shoes to protect against broken glass.
    • If the power is out use a flashlight. Do not light a match or candle.
    • Be alert for safety hazards such as fire, electrical wires, gas leaks, etc.
    • Check on others. If there are injuries or other urgent problems, report them to Safety and Security at 603-646-3333 (6-3333 from campus phones).
    • Give or seek first aid. Assist any disabled persons in finding a safe place for them.
    • Evacuate if the building seems unsafe or if instructed to do so.
    • Use stairs, not elevators.
    • Unplug small electrical appliances.
    • Bring keys, purses, wallets, warm clothing.
    • Be prepared for aftershocks.
    • Cooperate with emergency personnel, keep informed, and remain calm.


Emergency Numbers

Police/Fire/Ambulance 911
Safety & Security (603) 646-3333
Environmental Health & Safety (603) 646-1762
     Pager (603) 646-1058
Facilities Operations & Management (603) 646-2485
Dick's House College Health Service (603) 646-9400
Public Affairs (603) 646-3661
     Pager (603) 646-0816