What to Do in an Emergency

Create a Personal Emergency Plan

All members of the University community are encouraged to create a personal emergency response plan to guide the communication and actions between them and their loved ones during a disaster. Having such a plan can lessen the feelings of anxiety that may accompany such situations:

  • Make a list of emergency phone numbers and give a copy to your friends, parents, partner/spouse, and children.

  • Make an evacuation plan for leaving your home/residence, neighborhood, or city.

  • Because prescriptions are often written for a short period of time, make sure you have a small emergency supply.

  • Diabetics and others with chronic illnesses may find that they do not have enough medicine for a shelter experience.

  • Think about care for your pet(s). Pets are not allowed in most disaster shelters. Make sure your pets wear tags that indicate your name and home address, and that you have a recent photo of them.

Have an Emergency Supply Kit

  • Three-day supply of water and non-perishable food (one gallon per person per day, canned goods, crackers, snack bars, etc.)

  • Can opener, fork, spoon, sharp knife, and cup

  • Special supplies (baby items, medications, extra eyeglasses, plastic bags for documents and sanitation, etc.)

  • Sanitation supplies (toilet paper, toothbrush, soap, antibacterial wipes, etc.)

  • Fully stocked first aid kit

  • Battery powered AM/FM radio

  • Flashlight with extra batteries

  • Cash, Ventra/Metra card, and/or credit card

  • Keys to your home and car

  • Blanket

  • Map (can be useful when explaining directions)

  • Change of clothes and shoes (make sure they are weather appropriate)

At-Risk Populations

The University recognizes that individuals with disabilities may require assistance with alerting, evacuating, and sheltering in the event of an emergency. The University therefore asks all individuals who may need assistance in an emergency to self-identify to the University. Once an individual has self-identified, the University shall work with the individual to develop a personal emergency plan that includes specific evacuation procedures, sheltering procedures, and means of communication in the event of an emergency.


A Self-Identification Questionnaire is posted online. 

At-risk students can complete this form and return it to:

Assistant Dean of Students for Student Affairs

5801 South Ellis Avenue, Room 222

Chicago, Illinois 60637

Telephone: 773.834.9710

Fax: 773.702.4357

Once a student submits the online questionnaire, information is forwarded to the Director for Student Disability Services and the appropriate area Dean of Students. If the student resides in University housing, the Assistant Dean of Students shall also inform the Director of Undergraduate Student Housing, Associate Director of Real Estate Operations, or the Director of International House, as appropriate.

At-risk employees, including faculty, postdoctoral researchers, other academic appointees, and staff, can complete this form and return it to:

Director of Environmental Health and Safety

6054 South Drexel Avenue, Second Floor

Chicago, Illinois 60637

Telephone: 773.702.9999

Fax: 773.702.6546

Once an individual submits a Self-Identification Questionnaire, Environmental Health and Safety will work with the individual, his or her supervisor, and the relevant building manager to develop a personal emergency plan that includes specific evacuation procedures, sheltering procedures, and means of communication in the event of an emergency.

For more information about emergency procedures for individuals with functional limitations, please see the Evacuation Procedures for Persons with Disabilities Appendix of the Emergency Management Plan.



The University of Chicago is a multidisciplinary academic and research institution consisting of numerous divisions, departments, and units. While these divisions, departments, and units all focus on their individual tasks and functions in carrying out the University’s mission, ultimately they all are interconnected and work together under a single organization. This is especially true in the event of an emergency. Different divisions, departments, and units have been assigned responsibilities for preparing, responding, and recovering, and mitigating against emergencies; these responsibilities are specified in the University’s Emergency Management Plan.

This portion of the Emergency Management website will focus what different divisions, departments, and units must to do before, during, and after an emergency.

Emergency Notification

In the event of an emergency, staff will be notified by the cAlert system. If the facility you or your staff works in has been damaged or affected by the emergency, it is recommended to perform call-down using a call-tree to account for everyone’s safety. Further instructions on where to report will be provided.

Departmental Emergency Plan

Continually review, update, and disseminate your department’s emergency plan. This plan will contain procedures for staff safety during an event. To ensure the immediate life safety of staff, it may be necessary to activate Evacuation, Shelter-in-Place, Lockdown, or Social Distancing protocols.

University-Wide Emergency Roles and Responsibilities

In addition to ensuring the safety of staff, your division, department, or unit may have responsibilities to assist the University’s response to the emergency. Refer to the University of Chicago Emergency Management Plan for a listing of these responsibilities.

Continuity of Operations

An emergency may affect your division, department, or unit’s ability to carry out its normal operations as a result of damage to a facility or due to a staffing shortage. Furthermore, additional resources may be occupied by assisting the University response to the immediate emergency. To ensure your division, department, or unit can still fulfill its mission and support the University after an emergency, business continuity protocols should be identified in a Continuity of Operations Plan.