Emergency Planning

Information for responding to emergency situations

Ready and Resilient

This information should serve as a reference on how to respond in an emergency or dangerous situation on or near the campus. Campus safety and emergency preparedness is a responsibility we all share. Here’s how you can do your part:

NU Alert This system is the best and quickest way to get information during an emergency. NU Alert keeps you informed as the situation changes. Emergency alerts, notifications, and updates are sent to all registered devices, including cellphones and email accounts. Students, parents, and employees may opt to receive messages from the NU Alert system when entering their information into the university’s records management system, myNortheastern.

If you see something, say something. Reporting crimes, suspicious behavior, and safety concerns to NUPD helps keep us all safe. Program 617.373.3333 into your cellphone and don’t hesitate to make a report.

Always carry your Husky Card. In an emergency, you may find yourself locked out of your building or area because some doors may lock to keep out intruders. Carrying your Husky Card will ensure you can move about should doors be locked.

Fire Emergencies

  • Activate the fire alarm system by pulling a fire alarm station on your way out of the building.
  • If time permits, stabilize lab procedures, turn off stoves and ovens, and unplug or disable any device that could make a dangerous situation even worse.
  • Leave the building via the nearest exit. Warn others as you leave.
  • Do not use elevators.
  • Feel doors before opening, and close doors and windows as you leave if safe to do so.
  • Report the fire to the Boston Fire Department by calling 911; then contact NUPD once you’re outside.
  • If trapped, keep the doors closed and place cloth under them to keep out smoke. Signal for help by hanging an object (such as a jacket or shirt) out window to attract attention.
  • Remain a safe distance away from the building and await further instructions. Keep roadways open and beware of approaching emergency vehicles. Notify emergency responders of anyone trapped or any special conditions in the building.
  • Do not go back in the building for any reason until an authorized university official deems it safe to re-enter.

Medical Emergencies

  • Do not move a seriously injured person unless there is a life-threatening situation.
  • Call NUPD at 617.373.3333.
  • Give your name, location, and telephone number.
  • Give as much information as possible regarding the nature of the injury or illness, whether or not the victim is conscious, and other details.
  • Do not hang up until directed to do so by the emergency operator.
  • Return to the victim, administer first aid if you know how, and keep the victim as calm and comfortable as possible.
  • Remain with the victim. NUPD will respond immediately to the scene and will summon additional medical personnel if necessary.

Chemical Spill

  • Notify NUPD immediately.
  • Do not attempt to clean up the spill unless you’re trained to do so.
  • Remove yourself and others from the area.
  • Close doors to isolate the area.
  • If anyone had contact with the hazardous material, they should be isolated and await treatment by emergency personnel. Do not leave the site until you’re cleared by emergency responders. Do not pull the fire alarm unless there is a fire.
  • Provide first responders with information about the spill, chemical, and the spill area.
  • Evacuate the building if first responders issue the evacuation order.
  • Re-enter the building only when an “all clear” is provided by first responders.
  • For additional information on chemical spills or hazardous materials on campus, contact the Office of Environmental Health and Safety at 617.373.2769

Hostage Situations

If you hear or see a hostage situation:

Immediately remove yourself from any danger, if possible. Immediately notify NUPD.

If you’re taken hostage:

  • Remain calm, be polite, and cooperate with your captors. Speak normally. Do not complain, and avoid being belligerent or argumentative.
  • Do not attempt escape unless there is an extremely good chance of survival. It is safer to be submissive and obey your captors.
  • Do not draw attention to yourself with sudden body movements, statements, comments, or hostile looks.
  • Observe the captors and try to memorize their physical traits, voice patterns, clothing, or other details that can help you provide a description later.
  • Avoid getting into political or ideological discussions with the captors.

If you’re in a hostage rescue situation:

  • Do not run. Drop to the floor and remain still. If that is not possible, cross your arms, bow your head, and stand still. Make no sudden moves that a responder may interpret as hostile or threatening.
  • Wait for instructions and obey all instructions you’re given from responders.
  • Do not be upset, resist, or argue if a rescuer isn’t sure whether you’re a terrorist or a hostage. Even if you’re handcuffed and searched, do not resist. You will be taken to a safe area, where proper identification and status will be determined.

Winter/Extreme Weather

  • The decision to delay, cancel classes, or close the university due to inclement weather is made by senior university officials.
  • Closings and delays are announced using the following methods:
    • NU Alert
    • Emergency/Weather closing at 617.373.2000
    • University website
    • Broadcast voicemail messages
  • Do not come to campus when a weather-related closing is announced, unless you’re deemed essential personnel by your department head.
  • Employee access to campus is typically limited to emergency vehicles and snow removal personnel. If a weather closing is possible, take any needed items from campus in advance as you may not be permitted to enter until snow removal is complete.
  • Discuss weather closings in your department to plan ahead for continuity.
  • For additional information about planning for winter weather and continuity, contact the Office of Emergency Management at 617.373.5760.

Bomb Threat

Bomb threats usually come by telephone. If you receive a bomb threat call, remain calm and obtain as much information as possible from the caller. Notify NUPD immediately to give the information you have obtained. Describe the caller’s voice, any background noises you heard, and the exact wording of the message. If possible, gather this information:

  • When will the bomb explode?
  • What kind of bomb is it?
  • What will cause it to explode?
  • Where is it right now?
  • What does it look like?
  • Did you place the bomb?
  • Who placed the bomb?
  • Why was the bomb placed?
  • How many bombs are there?

Do not touch suspicious packages. Be sure to inform NUPD of any suspicious packages, items, or people in the area.

  • Take a photo of the suspicious item from a safe distance away to provide to NUPD.
  • Follow instructions from first responders about evacuation assembly areas.

Active Shooter Threat

If you see an individual with a firearm on campus or an individual who’s behaving in a hostile or aggressive manner, immediately contact NUPD at 617.373.3333. In addition, you should determine whether to run, hide, or fight. Given the circumstances, select the best way to protect yourself. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Run—Evacuate if possible. Have an escape route and plan in mind. Leave your belongings behind. Once responding police officers appear at the scene, keep your hands visible to the officers.

Hide—Find cover in an area that’s out of view. Block the entry to your hiding place and lock any doors. Silence cellphones.

Fight—Take action as a last resort and only if your life is in imminent danger. Attempt to incapacitate the shooter and act with physical aggression. Throw items, if possible.

Call NUPD at 617.373.3333 when it’s safe to do so. If you are outside of the Boston campus, call 911 and follow up with NUPD. In addition, you may activate the SafeZone mobile safety app from anywhere in the world.