University Safety and Assurances

Airborne Chemical or Biological Release


Some kinds of chemical accidents or attacks may make going outdoors dangerous. Leaving the area might take too long or put you in harm’s way. In such a case it may be safer for you to stay indoors than to go outside.

“Shelter in Place” means to make a shelter out of the place you are in. It is a way for you to make the building as safe as possible to protect yourself until help arrives. You should not try to shelter in a vehicle unless you have no other choice. Vehicles are not airtight enough to give you adequate protection from chemicals.

  • Step 1: Notification from Police

    • In the event of a chemical or biological release that would require protective actions be taken by campus residents, the University Police would be notified by the city/county of the incident.
    • A variety of notification methods will be used to inform all UWM employees of the protective action alert.
    • Those university buildings that are equipped with voice public address systems will use them to notify occupants of any imminent danger, and give direction on what to do.
  • Step 2: Close Doors and Windows

    • Do not exit the building.
    • If possible move to interior, windowless room on an upper floor.
    • Close all doors to the outside and lock all windows.
    • Wet towels or other fabric items and jam them in the crack under the door. Use plastic (trash bags are good) to cover all windows and doors. Use tape to seal the edges of plastic.
  • Step 3: Seal off Ventilation Sources

    • Turn off fume hoods, range hoods, air handlers, and all air conditioners. Switch inlets to the "closed" position.
    • Seal off all vents, grills, or other openings to the outside to the extent possible.
    • Minimize the use of the elevators in the building. These tend to "pump" outdoor air in and out of a building as they travel up and down.
    • If you become bothered by the gaseous release hold a wet cloth or handkerchief over your nose and mouth.
    • If you experience breathing difficulties contact the University Police (x9-911 from any hard-wired campus phone or 229-9911 from a cellphone) and request immediate medical assistance.
  • Step 4: Remain Indoors

    • Monitor the local media for further information and guidance.
    • Do not evacuate the building unless told to do so by University Police or the Milwaukee Fire Department.