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Safety & Security Office


Emergency Guidelines

St. Ambrose University is committed to maintaining a safe environment in which to study, work and live. Even so, emergencies can happen. Informing yourself now could make all the difference to your safety and security if an emergency occurs.

  • Sign up now to receive emergency texts and/or emails.
  • In the event of an emergency, REMAIN CALM. 
  • Stop, think, then act. 
  • Your first decision: To evacuate or "shelter in place" (remain where you are)

Follow directions of emergency personnel.
Secure hazardous materials or equipment.
Take personal belongings (keys, purses, wallets, cell phones, etc.), except where otherwise noted.
Use the nearest exit. If it's blocked, use an alternate exit.
Do not use elevators.
Help account for individuals and report the locations of persons who could not leave (such as persons with disabilities or special needs) to emergency responders.
Do not attempt to evacuate the central campus area by vehicle, as this will impede emergency vehicles arriving to assist with the incident.

Shelter in Place
Stay quiet and calm.
Silence cell phones and other electronic devices.
Pay attention to your surroundings.
Follow directions of emergency personnel.
Be prepared to consider evacuation at any point.

Take a few minutes now to read and think about how to respond in the event of the following types of emergencies:
Hazardous Weather
Suspicious Person or Object
Bomb Threat
Active Shooter, Violent Incident, Lockdown
Hazardous Materials Release
Infrastructure Failure
Additional Resources

Tornado Watch: Conditions are right for a tornado; remain alert to weather conditions.
Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted within a 25-mile radius; warnings are typically available 3-15 minutes in advance of the tornado. Once a warning is issued:

  • Go to the innermost, lowest area of safety: hallways or basements, away from windows and glass.
  • Do not use elevators during a tornado warning or watch.
  • Close all doors, including main corridors.
  • Crouch near the floor or under heavy, well-supported objects and cover your head.
  • If outside, lie down in a low area such as a ditch and cover your head.
  • Be alert for fire and use the fire plan, as needed.
  • Persons with mobility concerns should go to a safe place at the time of a tornado watch; do not wait for a tornado warning.

Severe Rains and Flooding

During severe weather, tune into local radio or television stations to monitor the situation. Follow the instructions of staff and emergency personnel. In the event flooding occurs on campus, it will generally be on a small scale and will not require evacuation. Campus Security will monitor these situations and communicate with the campus community, as needed.

If you have to be out during heavy rain, keep in mind the following guidelines:

  • Avoid floodwaters, as these may be contaminated with chemicals or sewage.
  • Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving and appears to be most shallow.
  • Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most cars causing loss of control and possible stalling. A foot of water will float many vehicles. 
  • If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon it and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, including sport utility vehicles.

Know the location of the nearest fire exit and fire extinguisher.
If you hear a fire alarm in your building, use the back of your hand to check the temperature of the door before opening it.

If the door is NOT too hot to touch, do the following:

  • Leave the room.
  • Activate the nearest fire alarm (if not already activated).
  • If you can do so safely, isolate the fire by closing any doors.
  • Evacuate the building using the quickest route.
  • Do not use elevators.
  • Follow the instructions of all emergency personnel.
  • Move at least 75 feet away from the building.
  • Call 911 and/or Campus Security 563/333-6104.
  • Do not re-enter the building until authorized by emergency personnel.

If the door is TOO HOT to touch, do the following:

  • Do not try to open door. Seek alternate escape routes. If none are available, remain in the room.
  • Wedge cloth/clothing under door to keep smoke out.
  • If possible, open a window and hang a sheet or towel out the window then close the window again. (This signals emergency personnel that you are in the room.)
  • Stay low to the ground and near the door. 
  • Cover your nose and mouth with cloth.
  • Call 911 and/or Campus Security 563/333-6104.
  • If on the ground-floor level, use the window to exit the building.

Suspicious Person

  • Do not let any unknown person into a locked building/office or allow them to follow behind you into the building.
  • Do not confront the person.
  • Do not block the person's exit.
  • Call Campus Security at 563/333-6104 and provide as much information as possible.

Suspicious Object

  • If you see an unknown object that appears out of place, do not touch or disturb it.
  • Call Campus Security at 563/333-6104.
  • Be prepared to evacuate.

If you receive a bomb threat by phone, listen for the following information and/or ask the caller the following questions:

  • WHERE is the bomb?
  • WHEN will it explode?
  • WHAT kind of bomb is it?
  • WHEN was it placed?

Immediately notify Campus Security at 563/333-6104.

During this type of incident you must be prepared for several options: escape (evacuate), shelter in place, and/or defend yourself.

When a shooter's location is known:

  • Consider if escape is the best option.
  • If you attempt to escape, have a plan in mind.
  • If you are in a building and decide to evacuate, consider leaving by an unconventional means, such as climbing from a window or breaking glass (using a sturdy object such as a fire extinguisher, chair or lectern).
  • Run with your hands empty and in plain sight.
  • Run in a zigzag pattern (not in a straight line).
  • Immediately obey the instructions of law enforcement officials.

When a shooter's location is unknown:

  • If you do not know the location of an assailant or danger, it may be unsafe to evacuate.
  • If you decide to shelter in place, find a safe area that can be secured. Lock and barricade the door, if possible.
  • Turn out the lights and close blinds or curtains.
  • As soon as you are in a secure location, call 911 and Campus Security at 563/333-6104.
  • If you choose to hide under or behind solid objects, make certain you are not trapped, should the assailant enter the room.
  • Keep yourself, and others seeking refuge with you, out of the sight of doors and windows.
  • Turn off radios and other devices that could make noise; remind people to silence their cell phones.
  • Allow others to take refuge with you, but be careful about opening a door. The shooter may try to open the door or call for help in an attempt to draw out more targets.
  • Provide first aid for any injured who are sheltering with you.
  • Wait in a safe area until told to move by emergency personnel.

If confronted by a shooter:

  • If the assailant enters your area, make a decision whether to defend yourself or attempt escape.
  • If defending yourself, look for objects that you can use to strike the assailant, and try to do so from locations that will allow you to strike without being seen or shot at.
  • Seek shelter and safety at the first opportunity.
  • Put something solid between yourself and the shooter.
  • Run with your hands empty and in plain sight.
  • Run in a zigzag pattern (not in a straight line).
  • Obey all instructions given by law enforcement officials and do not attempt to help injured along the way.

If you are reporting an active shooter, provide:

  • Specific and complete location
  • Number of people at the location with you
  • Number and type of injuries
  • Location and number of assailants
  • Description of the assailants including their gender, race, clothing, physical features, type of weapon, backpacks or bags
  • Do you know the person?
  • Have you heard shots or explosions from multiple locations?


  • Evacuate the building as quickly and calmly as possible.
  • Call 911 and/or Campus Security 563/333-6104.
  • If trapped in debris, tap on a pipe or wall to alert rescuers.
  • Where safe, and without attempting to lift or carry a person, help others exit, and move away from the building.
  • If items are falling, get under a sturdy table or desk.
  • If fire is present, stay low to the floor and exit the building.
  • Untrained persons should not try to rescue people who are inside a collapsed building. Wait for emergency personnel and inform them of the location of trapped persons.


  • Unless you know otherwise, treat all spills as hazardous-extinguish any open sources of flames.
  • For major spills (large volume and/or difficult to contain), immediately call 911.
  • Evacuate, assemble at a safe distance, and designate someone who will speak with emergency responders upon their arrival.
  • Notify emergency responders if you have been exposed.
  • For all other spills: Immediately call Housekeeping at 563/333-6051, M-F, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., or Campus Security at 563/333-6104, after hours.


  • In case of water, power, heat or cooling outages, contact the Physical Plant at 563/333-6359.
  • Internal telephone systems outages, use cell to contact Voice Communications at 563/333-6359.
  • In case of a critical incident related to computer systems, contact IT at 563/333-6368.
  • If after normal business hours (for any of the above), call 563/333-6104.

For information or assistance regarding persons with disabilities, contact Student Disability Services at 563/333-6275.

For information or assistance regarding someone who appears injured or sick, contact Student Health Services at 563/333-6423.

For information or assistance regarding a person who is struggling with a personal issue or who appears to be experiencing a psychological or emotional crisis, contact the Counseling Center at 563/333-6423.

For information on all other types of emergencies, or if you cannot reach someone in the appropriate office, contact Campus Security at 563/333-6104. As always, dial 911 for emergencies.

(Distributed 10/21/13)