Emergency Action Guides

What to Do Scenerio Icons

Emergency Phone Numbers

To report any emergency, call 911or 814-863-1111 for On-Campus Emergencies (University Park only)

When calling:

  • Provide the address of the emergency and your location.
  • Provide a through description of the incident to ensure that proper resources are dispatched.
  • Do not hang up until you are told to do so.

Other University Emergency Phone Numbers

  • Health Services: 814-865-6556
  • Environmental Health and Safety: 814-865-6391
  • Physical Plant:814-865-4731


PSUAlert is Penn State's text message, voice message and email emergency notification system for students, faculty and staff. PSUAlert is used to alert members of Penn State's campus communities of emergencies, campus closings and other urgent information. Using this portal, students, faculty and staff can choose to receive PSUAlert messages by text message, voice message and email. https://psualert.psu.edu/psualert/

Medical Emergency

  • Call 911 or 814-863-1111 immediately.
  • Provide location, nature of injury or illness, current condition of the victim and other requested information.
  • Remain on the phone until directed to hang up.
  • Stay with the victim.
  • Do not move the victim unless he/she is in immediate danger.

If it appears an individual may cause harm to themselves or to others, call 911 or 814-863-1111 immediately.

Available campus resources for faculty, staff and students include the following:

  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP) 1-866-749-1735
  • Centre County CAN HELP 1-800-643-5432

Suspicious Packages

Mail and package can be used to deliver suspicious and potentially hazardous materials. Before opening, take care to examine the item for anything unusual. Examples of issues that might raise concern:

  • Oily or stained
  • Excessive tape or sting
  • Stange odor
  • Misspelled words or names
  • Lopsided or uneven package
  • Excess postage
  • No return address

If a package is unusual or as stated above:

  • Handle with care.
  • Do not open, smell, touch, or taste any contents of the package.
  • Leave the area, isolate it by shutting doors behind you, as you leave.
  • Do not use your cell phone within 300 feet.
  • Treat it as dangerous and called 911.

See the following USPS website for more information.

Bomb Threat

Stay calm and obtain as much information as possible from the caller and report the threat immediately to 911 or 814-863-1111.

Be sure to note:

  • Precise time of the call.
  • Caller’s exact words.
  • Noticeable characteristics of the caller (gender, age, calm/angry, excited/slow, etc.).
  • Information regarding the device and possible location.
  • Background sounds (machine, voices, street noises, music, etc.).
  • Threat language (well spoken, taped, irrational, foul, incoherent, etc.).

Ask the person questions, such as:

  • Where is the bomb located?
  • When will the bomb explode?
  • What does the bomb look like?
  • What kind of bomb is it?
  • What will cause the bomb to explode?

Flooding & Water Line Breaks

Water may enter a building from one of the following sources:

  • Breaks or leaks in a water line
  • Rainwater/Flooding
  • Sewer leaks/Backs up
  • Condensation from uninsulated piping

OPP Notification: Notify OPP at (814) 865-4731 to report any of the above situations.

Fire and Fire Extinguisher Use

  • Pull the fire alarm.
  • Leave the building immediately using the closest emergency exit.
  • Close doors behind you (DO NOT LOCK).
  • Call 911 or 814-863-1111 when safe to do so.
  • Move to a safe location away from buildings or to your building's Designated Meeting Site.
  • Re-enter the building only when instructed by Designated Public Safety Official(s).
  • Do not assume an alarm is false.
  • Do not use elevators.
  • If unable to exit the building, go to the nearest exit stairwell or assisted evacuation staging area and call 911 or 814-863-1111 to report your location.
  • If trained, use a fire extinguisher if the fire is small and contained and room is not filled with smoke.
  • Portable fire extinguishers are provided, but it is NOT the responsibility of building occupants to perform fire suppression activities. Only trained individuals should attempt to use an extinguisher. Those that choose to use an extinguisher do so at their own risk.

Active Attacker/Workplace Violence

Based upon the Run, Hide, FightTM model developed by the City of Houston, Penn State’s Active Attacker Response offers the same three action steps if confronted with an active assailant, making it easy to remember and act upon in an emergency: run if you can, hide if you can’t, and fight if you have to.

Guidance on how to respond to an active attacker situation for students and employees can be obtained through the Penn State Active Attacker Response Program, presented by University Police. The program provides information on the steps you can take to mitigate the actions of an active attacker.

Please note that the Run, Hide, and Fight action steps may not always occur in this order, so memorizing them all as possible options regardless of order is a key to quick response.


  • Have an escape route and plan in mind.
  • Make sure it is safe to leave the area you are in. Use your senses to determine if it is safe to run.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  •  Keep your hands visible.
  • Once in a safe place, call police and give detailed information about what is happening. Don’t assume someone else has already called the police.


  • If unable to run from the danger, your second option should be to hide.
  • Find a place that’s out of the attacker’s sight and remain quiet.
  • Do not huddle together, because it makes an easier target.
  • Lock and barricade doors with whatever is available, such as desks, chairs, or door wedges. Shut off lights.


  • Fighting is a last resort to be used only when your life is in imminent danger. (However, sometimes fighting will be the first and only option.)
  • Find an object to use as a weapon, such as a fire extinguisher, backpack, book, or chair.
  • Attempt to incapacitate the attacker; commit to your actions; work with others to disable the assailant.

The Penn State Active Attacker Response Program is available online at runhidefight.psu.edu. (Reference Policy SY41)  

Suicide Prevention

If it appears an individual may cause harm to themselves or to others, call 911 immediately.

Available Campus Resources for faculty, staff and students include the following:

Faculty/Staff Assistance Program Crisis Phone: The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a confidential, consultative employee and family resource as a first line of defense for personal or work-related concerns for yourself or your family.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) 1-866-749-1735

  • Available to all benefits-eligible employees, their dependents and household members
  • No charge to employee or family
  • Voluntary
  • 24-hour assistance available, seven days a week

Crisis Services for Penn State Students: If you are afraid you will not be able to avoid hurting yourself or others, call for help immediately.

  • Call 911 or University Police (863-1111)
  • Centre County CAN HELP Line (1-800-643-5432) This is a 24-hour crisis hotline available to students. Counselors who staff the hotline will help people manage a crisis situation; a mobile team is available when needed. They refer to Centre County hospital facilities if hospitalization is needed.

Severe Weather

Thunderstorms are the most common type of severe weather in the state of Pennsylvania. However, winter storms, extreme hot/cold temperatures, flooding, and tornadoes can occur. For up-to-date weather advisories and information, visit weather.gov/ctp/.

Shelter-in-place for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes:

  • Seek shelter indoors in a low part of the building. Move to per-designed shelter, such as a basement or the lowest level of the building.

  • Move to a windowless interior room away from hazardous materials.

  • Monitor campus advisories and local media.

  • Take cover under a sturdy object or against an interior wall. Stay away from the windows. Get under a sturdy piece of furniture. Avoid places with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums, cafeterias, or large hallways.

  • Wait for the All Clear before leaving your safe place.

Utility Failure/Power Outage

Utility failures include power outages, gas leaks/unusual odors, flooding/plumbing problems, broken or malfunctioning life safety-equipment, or elevator entrapment.

  • Call 911 to report issues.
  • Be prepared to provide failure type and location.
  • University officials may evacuate a building due to utility failures.

To report a localized power outage, contact the Physical Plant at 814-865-4731.

Be prepared:

  • Keep a flashlight with spare batteries immediately accessible.
  • Know how to locate the closest exit.

In the event of a large-scale power outage:

  • Remain calm.
  • If building evacuation become necessary.
  • Do not light candles or any other types of flames for lighting.
  • Unplug computers and turn off light switches.

For more information about this subject please contact the Physical Plant at 814-865-4731.

Hazardous Materials

Hazardous materials accidents include:


  • Call 911 from a safe location.

  • If necessary or if directed, activate the fire alarm.

  • Exit the building via the nearest exit and inform other to do the same (follow Emergency Evacuation Plan Procedures).

Hazardous Materials Spill

  • Do not attempt to clean unless properly trained in managing chemical spills.

  • Secure the area, call 911 from a safe location. Be specific about the nature of the spill material, if known, and the exact location.

  • Report the incident to Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) by calling 814-865-6391.

  • Evacuate all personnel from the immediate work and/or laboratory area; if the release or spill has the potential to impact a larger area, activate the building's fire alarm and follow evacuation procedures.

  • Isolate the spill area and close doors to the room where the spill occurred if it is safe to do so.

  • If there is anyone who may have been contaminated by the spill, they should avoid any contact with others and remain in the immediate area so required first aid and decontamination can be done upon the arrival of emergency personnel. Use safety showers immediately if appropriate.

For more information about this subject please contact the Environment Health and Safety at 814-865-6391.

Elevator Entrapment

  • Press the Emergency Phone button to connect to Police. If unable to connect, call 911 or 814-863-1111.
  • Push the Alarm button.
  • Remain in the elevator.
  • Wait for the Elevator Technician and/or Designated Public Safety Official(s).

Crime Prevention and Resources

If you witness a crime:

  • If you witness a crime or become the victim of a crime, call 911 or 814-863-1111 to report the incident to the police.

Personal Safety Tips:

  • Do not let people into a locked building or office unless you work with them or they have been properly identified. If the person gives you any problems, call the police.

  • In the event that a suspicious person is seen roaming around or suspicious calls are received, contact police.

  • Always keep the door to your room locked when you are working alone.

  • Don’t investigate a suspicious person or noise outside by yourself.

  • Keep a list of emergency numbers with you.

  • Never walk alone at night. Walk in an alert confident manner and actively pay attention to your surroundings.

  • Choose the best lit, most traveled paths when walking.

  • Take a self-defense course.

Resource Information:

Emergency: 911 or 814-863-1111

Police Non-Emergency: 814-865-1864

Safe Walk: 814-865-WALK(9255)      

Crime Prevention Programs: 814-865-5871

Community Education Programs: police.psu.edu/community policing

Evacuation & Sheltering

In advance of an emergency, determine the nearest exits to your location and the best route to follow.  Refer to building emergency evacuation plans and corresponding maps for further information.


  • Walk, do not run.

  • Do not use elevators (assist persons with special needs).

  • Assemble at designated meeting site.

  • Wait for instructions from the Designated Public Safety Official(s).

Shelter in Place:

Procedures vary depending on the hazard.  Keep in mind that in some cases, authorities may direct you to shelter in place instead of evacuate.  Examples:  smoke or fire is immediately outside your room, live electrical wires obstruct access to the exit, individuals with mobility disabilities are above or below ground floors or if the hazard causes the elevators to become inoperative (fire alarms sounding).

Fire or Smoke and You Cannot Evacuate

  • If safe to do so, go to the nearest stairwell and tell someone who is evacuating to notify emergency personnel of your location and that you are unable to evacuate the building.

  • Call 911 or 814-863-1111 and tell them your name, your location, that you are unable to evacuate, and why you are unable to evacuate the building.

Severe Weather Incident

  • Move away from outside windows and doors, as well as large glass objects.

  • Avoid being underneath heavier objects that may fall.

Secure in Place:

Violent Criminal Action

  • Lock and barricade doors.

  • Move away from outside doors and windows.

  • Close window shades and turn off lights.

  • Keep quiet and silence phones.


The following are some helpful tips that should be practiced daily to help prepare for an earthquake:

  • Identify what equipment you should shut down if time permits.

  • Look around your area and decide where the safe spots are; under sturdy tables,desks or against inside walls

  • Determine where the danger areas are; near windows, hanging objects, tallunsecured furniture (bookcases, cabinets and appliances), and chemical sites. Most casualties in earthquakes result from falling materials.

  • Store flammable and hazardous chemicals in proper cabinets.

  • Keep breakables and heavy objects on lower shelves whenever possible.

  • Make sure latches on cabinets, closets, process tanks and storage tanks are secured.

Safety Tips

  • Stay indoors if already there. If you’re in a high-rise building, do not use elevators.

  • Drop to the ground, take cover under a sturdy object, and hold on until shaking stops. If a sturdy object is not available, move to an inside corner of the room, crouch down, and cover your face and head with your arms.

  • Stay away from glass, outside walls, or anything that could fall.

  • If you’re outdoors, stay in the open, away from buildings, trees and power lines. Do not go near anything where there is a danger of falling debris.

Emergency Procedures

After an earthquake, follow these guidelines:

  • Check for injuries and follow first-aid procedures.

  • Be prepared for aftershocks. Earthquakes sometimes occur in a series of tremors,which could last for a period of several days. Aftershocks, or even a series of aftershocks, are common after earthquakes and may last for a few seconds to perhaps as long as 5 minutes or more.

  • Do not re-enter damaged buildings. Aftershocks could knock them down.

  • In the event of a fire or personal injury, use the nearest telephone to call for help.

  • Be alert for water leaks, broken electrical wiring, downed electrical lines or rupturedsewer lines. Whenever possible, turn the utility off at the source.

  • If you do enter a building, use atmospheric testing equipment to check for leakingchemical or gas lines.

  • If problems are detected, leave the building immediately and notify your supervisor,an emergency responder (fire or police) or incident command. If phones are working, call 911.

  • Know your shutdown procedures

Gas Leak

If you smell natural Gas:

  • Leave the building and go to and area where the gas is not present.

  • Call 911.

  • Provide the necessary information to the dispatchers.

  • Provide as much detail as possible.

For more information about this subject please contact Environmental Health and Safety at 814-865-6391.