The University of Iowa

Emergency Response Guide

Emergency Response Guide


Various types of emergencies could affect the university.  Emergency notifications will provide the nature of the emergency and actions to take. Emergency notifications may occur the following ways:

  • The Hawk Alert emergency notification system will be used when there is a significant emergency or dangerous situation occurring on or imminently threatening the health or safety of those on campus and immediate action is required. Visit the Hawk Alert website to update your preferences.
  • The Outdoor Emergency Notification System includes outdoor sirens and a public address system that may be used for campus-wide critical incidents, including, but not limited to, tornado warnings. 
  • Building notification systems that may be used to inform occupants of an emergency include NOAA weather radios, digital signage, fire alarms, and/or other building specific equipment.  

Download Emergency Response Guide



Fire and evacuation alarms/notifications are intended to alert building occupants that a fire or other dangerous situation exists. Upon hearing the alarm or receiving alternate notification, everyone should leave the building immediately.

In the event of a fire, the following steps should be taken to ensure the safety of all building occupants:

  • Activate the fire alarm.
  • Evacuate the building immediately (when the fire alarm is activated, evacuation is mandatory).
  • Call 911 immediately upon reaching safety to report the fire and provide additional information.
  • Use a fire extinguisher only if safe to do so and you have been trained.
  • Do not use the elevators.
  • Stay low if confronted with smoke. Check closed doors for heat before opening.
  • Assist injured personnel, if safe to do so and/or notify emergency responders of the medical emergency.
  • Assist individuals who may need assistance, if safe to do so. Notify emergency responders of their location if they are unable to completely evacuate the building.
  • Meet with other evacuees at the established outside evacuation location.
  • Report any hazardous conditions to public safety officials.
  • Do not re-enter the building until authorized to do so by emergency personnel.
  • Take shelter on the lowest level of your building
  • Stay away from windows, above grade exterior walls, and areas with broad-spanned roofs
  • Move to an interior hallway or room and assume a safe position low to the ground
  • Monitor local media, NOAA weather radio, etc.
  • If outdoors and shelter are unavailable or if there is no time to get indoors, lie in a ditch or low-lying area. Protect your head with your arms.
  • Call 911
  • Provide your name, location, number of people injured, and description of the medical emergency
  • Stay on the phone for instructions of how to assist
  • Send someone to meet responding emergency personnel, if possible.
  • Activate fire alarm if not already activated
  • Evacuate the building immediately
  • Do not use the elevators
  • Call 911
  • Use a fire extinguisher only if safe to do so and if you have been trained
  • If able, help those needing assistance
  • Stay low if confronted with smoke and check closed doors for heat before opening
  • Do not re-enter the building until authorized to do so by emergency personnel.
  • Call 911
  • Provide information on the type of chemicals (if known), size of the spill and possible exposures
  • Evacuate the immediate area and follow instructions from emergency personnel regarding additional evacuations
  • The area should remain evacuated until re-entry is authorized by the appropriate authorities.
  • Call 911
  • In case of an imminent life-threatening incident, each individual should take actions necessary to protect their own life
  • If possible, flee the area and avoid danger
  • If evacuation is not a safe option, lock and/or barricade doors and secure yourself in a safe area, turn off the lights, and remain quiet and out of sight
  • If necessary, take action to ensure survival- attempt to incapacitate the assailant by either throwing items or with physical aggression.
  • If you are in distress and think that you may harm yourself or someone else, call 911
  • If you encounter someone you think is a danger to themselves or others, call 911
  • For non-life threatening situations, contact the University Counseling Service and/or the Threat Assessment Team.
  • If you receive a threat, keep calm and obtain as much information as possible:
    • Where is the bomb?
    • When will the bomb detonate?
    • What kind of bomb is it?
    • What will cause it to explode?
    • What does it look like? Who placed the bomb?
    • Why did they place the bomb? Name and address of the person reporting the bomb?
  • Do not disconnect the line; have someone else use another phone to call 911
  • If found, do not touch or handle a suspicious package or item containing the threat; move away and call 911
  • Follow evacuation instructions from emergency personnel.