What to do: Staff/Faculty/Academic Appointees/Postdoctoral Researchers

A natural, technological, or human-caused disaster can strike at any time. Due to the wide scope of possible catastrophes, the University of Chicago and  University of Chicago Medicine each have created emergency response plans to ensure effective and efficient response systems for diverse scenarios. University employees working in the medical complex should consult the University of Chicago Medicine emergency planning document for additional information.

To prepare for an emergency on campus, faculty, staff, academic appointees, and postdoctoral researchers should focus their attention on developing the following three safety strategies:

  • Create a personal emergency plan
  • Build an emergency go kit
  • Be informed

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. The personal emergency plan should identify contingencies for dependents such as children, household pets, or adults with special needs. If not planned for in advance, locating those in your care and ensuring their safety can be a significant complication after an emergency. Having a plan in place can lessen the feelings of anxiety that may accompany such situations.

Build an Emergency Go Kit

During a disaster, it is possible you may not be able to return to your office right away. Some University employees will need to remain at work long after their normal work hours to assist with the University’s emergency response. In anticipation of these circumstances, it is recommended that all staff and faculty develop an emergency go kit.

A go kit is a small cache of emergency supplies needed when an emergency restricts access to food, water, shelter, or power. A go kit should be stored in an easily accessible and convenient location such as your car or office. The list below provides an example of some of the supplies you may want to include in your staff and faculty go kit:

  • Three-day supply of water and non-perishable food (one gallon per person per day, canned goods, crackers, snack bars, etc.). Pack a 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. Kit should include quality bandages (one large pad), triple antibiotic ointment, anti-fungal ointment, eye drops, packaged wipes, Tylenol/acetaminophen or other analgesic, saline solution, tape, burn ointment, tweezers, small magnifying glass, and needle and thread
  • Battery-powered AM/FM radio with additional batteries
  • Flashlight with additional batteries
  • Copies of important documents (driver’s license or ID, passport/visa, birth certificates, phone numbers, etc.) in a waterproof case or bag
  • Cash, CTA/Metra card, and/or credit card. In addition, a phone card can be very useful for pay phones in the event you do not have access to a cell phone
  • Keys to your home and car
  • Extra blankets
  • Change of clothes and shoes (make sure they are weather appropriate)
  • Extra cell phone/laptop batteries and ensure the batteries are fully charged
  • Other items related to an office evacuation, as appropriate, including:
    • Comfortable gym shoes or sneakers
    • Rain gear
    • Paper towels
    • Signal flare
    • Paper, pencil
    • Important documents such as identification, policies, and records
    • Up-to-date copies of emergency plans

Be Informed

Prior to an emergency be sure to review your department’s emergency management plan. Study the procedures for:

  • Evacuation
  • Lockdown
  • Shelter-in-place
  • Social distancing

Additionally, if you have a role in the continuity of operations, be sure to have a detailed understanding of that plan.

Finally, if you have an emergency response role, be sure to have a detailed understanding of the University’s Emergency Management Plan. If you do not have an emergency response role, be sure to at least review the Emergency Management Plan to gain an understanding of how your department will integrate into emergency operations.

All staff and faculty will be informed of an emergency through the cAlert system. After the initial notification, information updates will be issued as they become available. Please maintain access to the following sources of information to stay informed:

  • University email
  • The University’s Emergency Management website
  • cAlert
  • Your supervisor

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 staff, faculty, and postdoctoral researchers 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.