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Natural, Accidental and/or Caused Disasters

A number of Natural, Accidental and/or Caused Disasters could demand an emergency response. The following procedures address some of the most common occurrences.

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 on Building Evacuation
  • 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 of 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 on Building Evacuation
  • 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:
    Cars -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 is 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, inform Safety and Security immediately at 603-646-64000 (6-4000 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



Last Updated: 7/25/18