Evacuation and Sheltering

A complete or partial campus evacuation may be necessary during many emergency situations. Familiarize yourself with these preparedness actions and the Cal Poly campus plan to get ready.

Before an actual evacuation, you should familiarize yourself with the following:

  • Know the location of alarms and extinguishers
  • Familiarize yourself with the emergency exits and have a strategy for evacuating
  • Back up computer and other research data and store elsewhere on a regular basis.
  • Know and practice proper chemical inventory and storage.
  • Keep in mind the daily schedule of those you work with, thereby making the accounting for everyone faster and more accurate.
  • Have flashlights/emergency lighting handy.
  • Faculty and Staff - Know the identity of your Building Coordinator and the location of the pre-assigned outdoor assembly area.

Building Evacuation

Every employee should be prepared to care for themselves and help others in the event of an emergency. During an emergency, all employees should remain calm. A successful outcome in an emergency situation always depends on the thoughtful and cooperative response of campus personnel working as a team. When you hear the evacuation alarm (fire alarm) or if the conditions in the building appear to warrant it, evacuate the building immediately. Your safety and the safety of others is the ultimate priority.

  • Do not use an elevator.
  • Take small and easily accessible personal belongings and secure any sensitive documents or valuables, if it is safe and expedient to do so.
  • While you evacuate, carefully look for anyone injured or trapped.
  • Direct everyone to the nearest exit.
  • Assist persons with disabilities or injuries in exiting the building.
  • Exit the building in the quickest way possible.
  • Keep away from the building and any emergency operations. Keep streets and walkways clear for emergency vehicles and personnel.
  • Move away, and assist others to move away, from all exits after leaving a building. This allows others to get out of the building without crowding or pushing.
  • Move away from the building until you are a safe distance away.
  • Rescue personnel will search all rooms to ensure they have been cleared. Do not lock doors when evacuating unless it is necessary to protect sensitive documents or valuables.
  • Do not return to the evacuated building until the area is declared safe by authorized personnel.
  • Employees: Following your exit from the building, immediately report in to the Building Coordinator for your group. Report any people that were unable to leave the building due to injury, disability, or being trapped. If multiple building evacuations are occurring, proceed to your pre-assigned outdoor assembly area and report in there to your Building Coordinator. Everyone should stay in their assembly area to await further instructions, if it is safe to do so. Do not go home without approval from management.

Individuals Requiring Assistance

An individual may require assistance during an emergency because of a disability or injury. When assisting an individual during an emergency, first assess how immediate the emergency is and communicate the nature of the emergency to the person. Second, ask the person how s/he would like to be assisted. If the individual has a mobility device, evacuate the device with the person, if possible.

In some cases, you may require assistance from rescue personnel to be evacuated and the following procedures are recommended:

  • Identify your exact location and have an evacuee report it to the Building Coordinator or emergency personnel when they are outside the building.
  • If a telephone is available, call 911, and describe the emergency and your location.
  • Wait for rescue personnel to make their primary search and come to your aid.

It is suggested that individuals with permanent disabilities should prepare for emergencies ahead of time by instructing a classmate, instructor, or fellow staff member on how to assist them in case of emergencies.

In general, the following assistance is recommended for individuals with visual and hearing impairments and for those who use wheelchairs:

  • Visual impairments - Offer your elbow to these individuals and guide them to a safe area. Make sure that they are fully informed of the situation and what they are to do.
  • Hearing impairments - Communicate with a short written message or speak slowly or directly to them. Use gestures to guide them toward the nearest exit.
  • Wheelchair Users - Consult with the individual to establish the best course of action. Lifting these individuals without proper consideration for their medical needs may be dangerous to their well-being as well as the possibility of injury to the rescuer. When there is doubt if the situation is life threatening, wait for trained emergency personnel to respond with the proper evacuation equipment.

Campus Evacuations

In the event of an emergency, it may be the recommended action to evacuate the campus. Persons will be advised to exit campus utilizing their vehicles by designated routes. Persons without vehicles may be instructed to walk, bike, or, if possible, obtain a ride. Three areas on campus have been designated by the San Luis Obispo County as staging areas for evacuation of carless persons who need to obtain a ride. The three designated staging areas are: 1) Cal Poly Mustang Stadium, California Boulevard 'O'Neill Green'; 2) Corner of Mount Bishop and Highland Drive; 3) Parking Lot G1-R2, Grand Avenue and Slack Street. Destination (relocation sites) for people being evacuated will depend on the emergency. Evacuation of special populations, such as the Children's Center, will be coordinated through the Emergency Operations Center.


Sheltering, staying inside a campus building, may become the selected protective action when there is insufficient time to evacuate, when evacuation routes are blocked, or when a radioactive release has occurred. The campus community will be given the location of campus shelters and the designated routes for evacuation using campus emergency communication sources.