The following is a general guideline of evacuation procedures during fire and other building emergencies.  It also addresses non-emergency situations.

COVID19 Instructions:   In the event of a building evaluation, directional traffic signage does not need to be followed and that individuals should use their closest exits. Wear a mask upon exiting and re-entering the building.  When evacuating from a building, first exiting move at least 50 yards from the building, keep social distance and avoid creating groups. Upon entering the building, keep social distance and utilize all entrances.

All persons are encouraged to identify primary and secondary evacuation routes.  Each evacuation route must lead to an exit or to a safe area.  After identifying two evacuation routes, persons in fixed locations (employees) who may need assistance in case of an emergency should assist the department in establishing a safety plan.  Persons who are not in a fixed location (students, guests) are encouraged to identify a safety plan for each building, class or visit.  For assistance in developing a safety plan, contact the Environmental Health & Safety Department (315-268-6640).  It is recommended to have Campus Safety & Security phone number (315-268-6666) readily available or programmed into a cell phone.


There are three basic evacuation options (in order of preference):

1.       Stairway (Vertical) Evacuation: Using steps to reach ground level exits from the building.

2.       Horizontal Evacuation: Using building exits to the outside ground level or going into unaffected wings of multi-building complexes.  At least one set of fire doors should be between you and the affected area of the building.

3.       Stay in Place: Unless danger is imminent, remaining in a room with an exterior window, a telephone, and a solid or fire resistant door.  With this approach, the person may keep in contact with Emergency Services by dialing 911 and report his or her location directly. Emergency Services will immediately relay this location to onsite emergency personnel, who will determine the evacuation plan.  Phone lines are expected to remain in service during most building emergencies.  If the phone lines fail, the individual can signal from the window by waving a cloth or other visible object.

The stay in place approach may be more appropriate for sprinkler protected buildings, or buildings where a safe area is not nearby or available.  A label on the door jamb or frame can identify a fire resistant door.  Non-labeled 1 3/4 inch thick solid core wood doors hung on a metal frame also offer good fire resistance.

The safest locations to take refuge during an emergency are stair enclosures.  Other possible safe areas include fire-rated corridors or vestibules adjacent to exit stairs.  


Wheelchair/Scooter Users

Emergency: Persons using wheelchairs or scooters should stay in place or move to a safe area.  Once a safe location has been identified, the individual should phone 911 with their present location.  Emergency personnel will determine if further evacuation is necessary.

Non-emergency: Persons who have concerns regarding elevator access or automatic doors due to maintenance activity or an unplanned shutdown should call Facilities & Services, Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 4:30 pm at 315-268-4000. Campus Safety & Security can be contacted at 315-268-6666 after hours and on weekends.  If non-emergency assistance is needed due to an inoperable elevator, contact Campus Safety & Security at 315-268-6666 to have CUEMS dispatched with an evacuation stair chair.  If CUEMS is not available, Potsdam Volunteer Rescue Squad (PVRS) will be contacted to assist.

Blind or Low Vision

Most people with low vision will be familiar with their immediate surroundings and frequently traveled routes.  Since the emergency evacuation route is likely different from the commonly traveled route, persons who are blind or have low vision may need assistance in evacuating.  The assistant should offer their elbow to the individual with low vision and guide him or her through the evacuation route.  During the evacuation the assistant should communicate as necessary to ensure safe evacuation.

Other Physical Disabilities

Persons who do not utilize a wheelchair/scooter and who are able to walk independently may be able to negotiate stairs in an emergency with minor assistance. If there is no immediate danger (detectable smoke, fire or unusual odor), the person with a disability may choose to stay in the building, using the other options identified above, until the emergency personnel arrive and determine if evacuation is necessary.

Remember: Prior planning and practicing of emergency evacuation routes are important in ensuring a safe evacuation.

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