TC's Emergency Response Protocols

TC's Emergency Response Protocols

Below you will find specific procedures for how you, as a member of Teachers College community should respond in the event of certain emergency situations.  To understand how Teachers College organized its response to emergencies, please view the overview of Emergency Operations Actions.

For general building evacuation procedures please review the building evacuation section of this website.

The information below contains the Community Response Protocols and key words/phases to assist in the response. 

Quick Reference

We each have a responsibility to know how to respond in an emergency. The four basic things you need to know are how to:

  1. Report an Emergency
  2. Evacuate a Building
  3. Shelter in Place
  4. Lockdown/Lockout

Report an Emergency

Call Public Safety: 212-678-3333 or Dial: 911


Key Words and Phrases:

  • Evacuate the building using the nearest available stairway (DO NOT USE ELEVATORS) and exit. Proceed to your designated gathering point at least 500 feet away from the building.
  • Provide assistance to persons with disabilities and other individuals in your immediate area. Notify the TC Office of Public Safety if there are injured or trapped persons remaining in the in your building.

Shelter in Place -- most commonly used for hazardous material emergencies

  • Stay inside in a safe location. Do not exit the building.
  • Close doors and windows.
  • Wait for further instructions from authorities.
  • Refer to Sheltering Annex.


  • Lockdown -- most commonly used for intruder situations
    • Stay or go inside a safe room.
    • Lock or barricade the door.
    • Cover door window.
    • Lock and stay away from windows.
    • Get out of sight and stay low and quiet.
    • Turn off lights.
    • Silence cell phones.
    • Wait for further instructions from authorities.
  • Lockout -- most commonly used for a threat loose outside the building
    • If you are outside, enter the closest building.
    • Stay away from exterior doors and windows.
    • If you are inside, stay inside the building.
    • Wait for further instructions from authorities

Community Response Protocols

Active Shooter

If you should ever encounter a hostile intruder or active shooter inside a College facility or outside on the campus grounds, your immediate response and decisiveness will help protect you.  Other factors including your location and your proximity to the suspect will also play a factor.  In event of an active shooter, TC Public Safety will use TC Alert and the public address system to notify the community whenever circumstances permit.
In the event of an active shooter, you should either run, hide, or fight.
If you are indoors and you detect an armed intruder in your building: Evacuate
  • If you can safely escape from the building, get out and report your observations to Public Safety X3333 or 9-1-1.
  • Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow
  • Leave your belongings or anything that can slow you down
  • Help others escape if possible
  • Do not attempt to move the wounded
  • Keep your hands visible
  • Call 911 when you are safe
  • If you cannot safely escape, go into a room that can be locked or barricaded. 
  • Lock or barricade the door. Close the blinds, turn off the lights, remain quiet, and move behind the available cover. Stay on the floor, away from doors or windows, and do not peek out to see what may be happening.

If you are indoors and cannot escape, Hide

  • Hide in an area out of the shooter's view 
  • Lock and barricade doors  “Lock-down” 
  • Turn off lights
  • Close blinds
  • Block windows
  • Turn off radio
  • Keep occupants calm, quiet, and out of sight
  • Take adequate cover/protection behind concrete walls, thick desks, and filing cabinets
  •  Stay low – on the floor
  • Silence cell phones
  • Place signs in exterior windows to identify the location of injured persons.
  • Call TC Public Safety at X3333 to report the emergency.   9-1-1 If you are calling from a cell phone give your name, location, and phone number.
  • Provide as much information as you can about the situation
  • Do not hang up until instructed to do so by the emergency operator.
  • If you are in an area that is in “Lockdown”, stay there until law enforcement arrives and clears the area.  Do not open an area in lock-down 


If you are unable to hide and the shooter is close: Fight

  • When your life is in imminent danger, and as a last resort, Fight
  • Act with as much aggression and physical force as possible
  • Attempt to incapacitate the shooter with any and all objects that you may have in your immediate area. Including everything from books to trash cans to chairs
  • Act with aggression and commit to your actions…..Your life depends on it! 

Police Response 

  •  The objective is to immediately engage and neutralize the shooter(s)
  •  Police will not  initially stop to help the wounded
  •  Rescue teams will follow police to assist those wounded
  •  Follow the instructions of police and emergency responders
  •  When told to exit the area, keep your hands visible
  •  Evacuate persons
  •  Facilitate follow-up medical care, interviews, counseling, etc.

For more information, please view these informative training videos:

NYPD Active Shooter Training and Prevention

DHS Pathway to Violence

NYS DHSES "480 seconds" Active Shooter Training Video

What you should do:

Telephone threat:

  • Keep the caller on the telephone as long as possible to obtain further information.
  • Listen carefully to all information provided by the caller and to make a note of any voice characteristics, accents, or background noises as these may also be important clues.
  • A list of questions to ask and information to obtain is provided below: (see Bomb Threat Checklist)
    • When is the bomb going to explode?
    • Where is the bomb right now?
    • What does the bomb look like?
    • What kind of bomb is it? (Plastic, TNT, nitro, etc.)
    • What will cause the bomb to explode?
    • Telephone number where the call came in
    • Exact wording of bomb threat
    • Write down the following additional caller information, if known:
      • Sex of the caller
      • Approximate age, race, accent
      • Voice description (e.g., calm, loud, breathy, etc.)
      • Background noises
      • Caller ID if one available
  • Notify Public Safety as soon as possible at 212-678-3333.

Suspicious object:

  • Do not touch or move the object.
  • Do not use cell phones in the immediate area.
  • If it is a suspicious package, do not open, move or shake the item.
  • Isolate the object and clear the area.
  • Notify Public Safety at 212-678-3333.

Written threat:

  • Handle the written threat as carefully and as little possible, and place in a paper bag if available.
  • Note the date, time, location you received the written threat.
  • Notify Public Safety at 212-678-3333.
  • Provide the written threat to the Public Safety CIC post, Whittier Hall lobby, or as directed by Public Safety.

What you should know:

  • The information gathered during a telephone bomb threat is intended to obtain important information relative to the severity of the threat as well as identify the person responsible for making the threatening call.
  • Be calm and courteous – DO NOT interrupt the caller.
  • When the incident is reported to Public Safety, they will take appropriate measures and employ appropriate resources to thoroughly investigate the threat including notification to law enforcement; conduct facility searches; notify the Teachers College community; and bolster security on campus.

Bomb Threat Checklist:

Civil Disturbances, Protests, Riots

Most campus demonstrations such as marches, meetings, picketing or rallies will be peaceful and non-obstructive and should not be interfered with. An immediate notification should be made to the Teachers College Office of Public Safety for any of the below conditions:

INTERFERENCE with normal operations of the College.

PREVENTION of access to office, buildings, or other College facilities.

THREAT of physical harm to persons or damage to College facilities.

What you should do:

  • Report disruptive circumstances to Public Safety at 212-678-3333.
  • Do not argue with participant(s).
  • Have employees, visitors or students leave the immediate area of disturbance.
  • Lock all doors.
  • Stay away from windows and exterior doors.
  • Remain inside building, unless instructed otherwise by Public Safety.
  • Public Safety will issue further instructions upon arrival.

What you should know:

  • Inserting yourself in a violent situation may only lead to you and others getting hurt.
  • Let the authorities deal with the situation.

An earthquake is a sudden shaking of the earth caused by the breaking or shifting of rock beneath the earth's surface. Though damaging earthquakes are rare in our area, they are not impossible. There are several fault lines in the New York/New Jersey area. You may also move or travel to earthquake prone areas, so information regarding earthquake response procedures should be part of your emergency preparedness knowledge.

Damage from a major earthquake can extend for many miles from the epicenter.  Collapsed buildings, bridges and overpasses, cracked roadways, downed power lines, broken gas lines, explosions, and landslides can result. Earthquakes at sea can trigger huge ocean waves, called tsunamis, which impact coastal areas.

What to do before an earthquake:

  • Look for items in your home that could become a hazard during an earthquake:
  • Repair defective electrical wiring, leaky gas lines, and inflexible utility connections.
  • Bolt down water heaters and gas appliances (have an automatic gas shut-off device installed that is triggered by an earthquake)
  • Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves. Fasten shelves to walls. Brace high and top heavy objects.
  • Store bottled foods, glass, china, and other breakables on low shelves or in cabinets that can be fastened shut.
  • Anchor overhead lighting fixtures.
  • Check and repair deep cracks in ceilings and foundations. Get expert advice, especially if there are signs of structural defects.
  • Be sure your residence is firmly anchored to its foundations (many older homes are not anchored).
  • Install flexible pipe fittings to avoid gas or water leaks.
  • Know where and how to turn off electricity, gas, and water at main switches and valves.
  • Locate safe spots in each room under a sturdy table or against an inside wall. 
  • Identify danger zones in each room -- windows where glass can shatter, bookcases or furniture that can topple over, or under ceiling fixtures that can fall.
  • Develop a plan for reuniting with your household after an earthquake. Establish an out of town contact for household members to call.
  • Prepare to survive on your own for a least 3 days.  Assemble a disaster supply kit.  Keep a stock of non-perishable food and drinking water.

Remember, certain instructional items may not apply if you are living in an on-campus / off-campus dorm or apartment. 


What to do during an earthquake:

  • If you are inside a building, stay inside your building until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Most injuries during earthquakes occur when people are hit by falling objects when entering or exiting buildings.
  • If you are indoors, drop, cover, and hold on!  Take cover under a sturdy desk, table, or bench, or against an inside wall, and hold on. Stay away from glass windows, outside doors or walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.  If you are in bed, stay there, hold on, and protect your head with a pillow (unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall.
  • If you are outdoors, stay outside.  Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires. Do not take shelter under a bridge or overpass.
  • If you live in an apartment building, residence hall, or other multi-household structure with many levels:
  • Get under a desk and stay away from windows and outer doors.
  • Stay in the building (many injuries occur as people flee a building and are struck by falling debris).
  • Be aware that electricity may go out and sprinkler systems may activate.
  • Do not use the elevators.
  • If you are in a crowded indoor public location:
    • Stay where you are.  Do not rush for the doorways.
    • Move away from tall shelves, cabinets, bookcases, and display cases that could topple over or that contain objects that could fall.
    • Take cover and grab something to shield your head and face from falling debris and glass.
    • Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may activate.
    • Do not use elevators.
    • If you are in a moving vehicle, stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, or utility wires. Then proceed cautiously, watching for bridge and road damage.
  • If you become trapped in debris:
    • Do not light a match or lighter.
    • Do not move about or kick up dust.
    • Cover your mouth with a cloth or clothing.
    • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. 
    • Use a whistle if one is available.
    • Shout only as a last resort -- shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.
    • Stay indoors until the shaking has stopped and you are sure that exiting is safe.

What to do after an earthquake:

  • Be prepared for aftershocks. They can be strong enough to do additional damage to weakened structures.
  • Check for injuries. Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of death or further injury.  If you must move them, first stabilize their neck and back.
  • If the victim is not breathing, carefully position the person to open the airway to assist them to breathe.
  • Maintain body temperature with blankets, clothing, or other insulating material and raise the legs to help prevent shock.
  • Attempt to stop bleeding through the use of direct pressure, elevation, and pressure points.  
  • Do not try to give liquids to an unconscious person.
  • If the electricity goes out, use flashlights or battery powered lanterns.  Do not use candles, matches, or open flames indoors after the earthquake because of possible gas leaks.
  • Wear sturdy shoes in areas covered with debris and broken glass.
  • Check your home for structural damage. If you have any doubt about safety in your home, have it inspected by a professional before entering.
  • Check chimneys for visual damage and have them inspected by a professional before lighting a fire.
  • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline, and other flammable liquids in your home.  Evacuate the building if gasoline fumes are detected and the building is not properly ventilated.
  • Visually inspect utility lines and appliances for damage.
  • If you smell gas or hear a hissing or blowing sound, open a window and leave. Shut off the main gas valve. Report the leak to the gas company. Stay out of the building. If you shut off the gas at the main valve, only a professional should turn it back on.
  • Switch off the electrical power at the main fuse box or circuit breaker if electrical damage is known or suspected.
  • Shut off the water supply at the main valve if water pipes are damaged.
  • Do not flush toilets until you know the sewer lines are intact.
  • Open cabinets cautiously.  Beware of heavy objects that can fall from shelves.
  • Use the phone only to report life-threatening emergencies (to prevent overloading of the phone system).
  • Listen to news reports and monitor information sources (such as TCAlert if you are on campus).
  • Stay off the streets.  If you must go out, watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks. 
  • Stay away from other damaged areas unless your assistance has been requested by response agencies or you are a trained emergency responder operating with an organized team (such as a local CERT team).
  • If you live in coastal areas, be aware of possible tsunamis.  When you receive a tsunami warning, get away from the beach and go to high ground.  Bring your "GO KIT"

What you should do:

  • Evacuate the building using the nearest available stairwell or exit. Do not use elevators.
  • If an alarm is not sounding, pull closest fire alarm on your way out, if possible. If the alarm does not work call Ext. 3333 or 212-678-3333 and notify Public Safety of the fire and malfunction.
  • Close doors on your way out, if possible.
  • Assist mobility-impaired persons out of the building and to evacuation assembly points. If the person cannot be assisted safely out of the building then exit and notify an FET member immediately.
  • Exit the building and await further instructions.
  • Keep streets, fire lanes, hydrant areas and walkways clear for emergency vehicles and first responders.

Persons with Disabilities

  • It is suggested that individuals who use wheelchairs or who have a mobility related disability prepare for an emergency ahead of time by instructing coworkers or fellow students on how to assist in an emergency.
  • During an emergency evacuation due to fire, building elevators should not be used.
  • Evacuation may not always be necessary or advisable. If persons with mobility related disabilities cannot be transported from the building without using an elevator, assist persons with disabilities to the nearest fire stairway landing on each floor of the building. Immediately notify TC Public Safety staff or other rescue workers on-scene upon the arrival of persons with disabilities to the rescue area.

If Trapped in a Building:

  • Remain calm.
  • Call 3333 for TC Office of Public Safety and provide your name, phone no. and location.
  • Open a window and hang a piece of clothing outside to mark your whereabouts for rescue workers.
  • Stay near the floor, where visibility will be better and the air will be less toxic.
  • Periodically call-out loudly for help so rescue workers can locate you. Avoid flammable liquids, compressed gas cylinders, etc. that may be in a room or lab with you.

Portable Fire Extinguisher Use:

Only trained personnel are authorized to use any portable fire extinguisher that may be present to fight fires. If there is any doubt about safe extinguishing of the fire then exit immediately and report findings.

What you should do:

  • Shut off the source of the gas leak if immediately apparent, if it can be easily corrected (e.g., Bunsen Burner, kitchen appliance), and if you have the knowledge and ability to do so without jeopardizing your personal safety.
  • Open windows and, if there is ventilation on, leave it running. If ventilation is off do not switch it on.
  • Evacuate the building and report to the evacuation assembly point. DO NOT PULL THE FIRE ALARM.
  • Notify Public Safety at 212-678-3333 and provide the following information:
    • Location of the site affected
    • Type of problem or outage
    • Do not hang up until advised to do so by dispatcher.

What you should know:

  • Depending on the extent and expected duration of the outage, the Incident Command Team will be activated to determine follow-on responses such as relocation, consolidation of food service,Depending on the extent and expected duration of the outage, the Incident Command Team  etc.
  • During failure of electricity, gas, water, or other utilities Teachers College will remain in operation to the extent possible.

What Not to Do:

  • Do not use the phone in the area of the leak.
  • Do not turn light switches on or off.
  • Do not activate the fire alarm system.
  • Do not turn electrical equipment on or off.
  • Do not use elevators in the area.
  • Do not return to the evacuated area until advised to do so by the Office of Public Safety and/or the FDNY.

What you should do:

Spill/Release Inside the Building:

  • Any spill of a hazardous substance must be reported immediately to the TC Office of Public Safety at Ext. 3333. Provide any information you may have as to the location and extent of the spill, and as to the chemicals involved or stored in the area.
  • Stop the SOURCE of the spill if possible but DO NOT attempt to clean up the spill yourself.
  • Evacuate the building if directed by the EH&S Office, Public Safety or the FDNY if the hazardous material spill cannot be contained or controlled.
  • Clear the area to ensure no hazardous material exposures are occurring.
  • Once you are in a safe place, dial Public Safety at Ext. 3333 and provide the following information:
    • Building Name
    • Your name and phone number
    • Location of the spill and/or materials released
    • Characteristics of spill (colors, smells, visible gases)
    • Name of substance, if known
    • Injuries, if any
    • Do not hang up until advised to do so by dispatcher (unless calling from the hazard area).
  • DO NOT eat or drink anything or apply cosmetics in the area impacted by the spill.


Spill Outside the Building:

  • Notify Public Safety at Ext. 3333 and provide the following information:
    • Building address, including nearest cross street or nearest adjacent building(s)
    • Your name and phone number
    • Location of the spill and/or materials released
    • Characteristics of spill (colors, smells, visible gases)
    • Name of substance, if known
    • Injuries, if any
    • Do not hang up until advised to do so by dispatcher (unless calling from the hazard area).
  • If it is a small spill and does not pose an immediate health risk, do the following:
    • Alert others in the immediate area to leave the area
    • Restrict access to the affected area
    • Try to protect drainage areas and soil from contamination
  • If the spill poses a threat to human health, do the following:
    • Get inside the closest building where you can safely shelter-in-place
    • Do not leave the sheltering area until notified by Public Safety or first responders that it is safe to do so

Toxic Fumes/Vapors:

  • Toxic fumes can infiltrate a building from various sources – improperly stored chemicals, faulty building systems and equipment, fires, engine exhaust, etc.
  • If the presence of toxic fumes is suspected, the affected area should be evacuated. Use a telephone away from the area and notify the Office of Public Safety at Ext. 3333. It may be possible to ventilate an affected area by opening windows and/or activating exhaust fans, provided such action is undertaken by trained personnel.


What you should know:

  • Hazardous material spills may occur inside a building, such as a spill in a chemistry lab or facilities closet.
  • More likely, incidents of disaster magnitude will occur outside, such as a truck accident involving larger quantities of toxic material.
  • An emergency response is not required for incidental spills which are classified as minor spills that pose no threat to human health, property or the environment.
  • If an indoor release meets one or more of the following conditions, it will constitute an emergency and require emergency response efforts:
    • Over 500-milliters of a liquid or 1-pound of a solid for known chemicals or any size of acutely toxic, radioactive or unidentified chemical or combination of chemicals (i.e. strong oxidizers, phenol, reactive, peroxide, carcinogen, P and U listed waste);
    • Human fluids, such as but not limited to blood, urine, and saliva, should ONLY be cleaned up by someone who has received Bloodborne Pathogens training;
    • Mercury spills should only be cleaned up by someone trained to do so such as the EH&S Director or Specialist.
  • If toxic chemicals come in contact with your skin, immediately flush the affected area with clean water for at least 15 minutes.
    • Note: If the substance is in a powder or dry form carefully brush the chemical off, DO NOT USE WATER.

Long periods of excessive heat can be dangerous. Excessive heat kills more people in the U.S. than tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and lightning combined.  The elderly, the very young, obese persons, and those who work outdoors or have substance abuse problems are most at risk. In addition, people in urban areas are more susceptible as the buildings and roadways tend to hold in heat throughout the night.

  • Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must participate in strenuous activities, do it in the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4 a.m. and 7a.m.
  • Stay indoors as much as possible. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine.
  • Drink plenty of water regularly and often, even if you don't feel thirsty. Water is the best liquid to drink during a heat wave. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as they can intensify the effects of the heat on your body. This is especially true about beer because it accelerates dehydration.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the heat energy from the sun.
  • Never leave children or pets in the car even with the windows down. When the outside temperature is only 83 degrees F, and your car windows are down 2 inches, the temperature in your car can reach 109 degrees F in 15 minutes.
  • Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.

Persons conducting outside activities in hot weather:

  • Ensure your personnel working or participating in outdoor activities during hot weather have access to water and drink frequently!
  • Monitor them on a regular basis for signs of heart related illnesses:

Heat Exhaustion:

  •   Cool, moist, pale or flushed skin
  •   Heavy sweating
  •   Headache
  •   Nausea or vomiting
  •   Dizziness
  •   Exhaustion

Heat Stroke

  •   Hot, red skin
  •   Lack of perspiration
  •   Changes in consciousness
  •   Rapid, weak pulse and rapid, shallow breathing


  • Take the victim out of the heat and place in a cool environment
  • Call 9-1-1 for immediate medical attention 
  • Cool the body slowly with cool, wet towels or sheets.  
  • Have the victim drink water, SLOWLY, at the rate of approximately half a glass of water every 15 minutes. Consuming too much water too quickly will cause nausea and vomiting in a victim of heat illness.
  • If the victim is experiencing vomiting, cramping, or is losing consciousness, DO NOT administer food or drink. Call 9-1-1 and alert a medical professional as soon as possible, and keep a close watch on the individual until professional help is available.

Hurricanes are large and very dangerous storms that can cause widespread injuries and damage due to high winds, inland flooding, coastal storm surge and storm tide flooding, and tornadoes.  

If hurricane conditions are expected in the TC campus area, information is disseminated to the College community via TC Alert, the TC Web site and Columbia University web site. You should monitor TC Alert and the appropriate Web Site, and media sources during the approach of a hurricane.

Suspensions of TC activities or closure of the College is provided to the College community via      TC Alert, the TC web site home page and the news media networks including; CBS 2, NBC 4, WNEW 5, ABC 7 WOR 9 and the Weather Channel as well 880 WCBS and 1010 WINS news radio. 

During the approach of a hurricane: 

  • Modern weather forecasting can provide significant warning time as hurricanes approach, but these storms can deviate from their predicted track. Persons in areas threatened by a hurricane should monitor information sources for the latest forecasts, watches, and warnings.
  • Shutter or board the windows of your home.  Secure the area. Property and equipment not properly anchored should be moved inside a building or tied down. 
  • Check your home Disaster Supply Kit and evacuation "Go" Bag.  If you do not have a ready supply kit, stock up on food and water in case you must shelter in your home or evacuate.
  • Fuel up your vehicles in case an evacuation is ordered.  Turn off the utilities of your home at the main valve or switches if instructed to do so by authorities.
  • Check your local Emergency Management web site (NYCOEM) or office to learn the hurricane emergency evacuation routes and alternate routes from your neighborhood.

If you are instructed to evacuate due to a hurricane:

  • Be prepared to evacuate even before the order to evacuate is announced. If you feel that you are in a dangerous location (such as on the coast or in an area prone to flooding) or live in a structure that cannot sustain the expected high winds (such as a mobile home), make arrangements and evacuate before the evacuation order.  Let an out of area contact know of your plans.
  • When instructed to evacuate, do so at once!  Remember that the goal is to be out of the danger area and in a safe location before the arrival of the storm force winds and flooding. Bring your Disaster Supply Kit or "Go" bag with you.  
  • Follow the announced evacuation routes. If you do not have access to a motor vehicle, go to an announced transportation staging site.
  • Keep away from coastal areas or inland areas prone to flooding.
  • Make arrangements for your pets. Remember that many emergency shelters will not allow pets.
  • See TC OPS web site specific evacuation information in the "Campus Evacuation and Relocation " document.

If you are not required to evacuate and you are sheltering in place during a hurricane:

  • Take refuge on the ground floor in a windowless central room, closet, or hallway.
  • Get under a table or other strong object. Stay away from windows or glass doors.
  • Close all inside doors. Brace all outside doors.
  • Remember that there is a calm period during the passage of the hurricane "eye", but that storm conditions will return after the eye passes.

After the hurricane passes:

  • Monitor the media for instructions and official information.
  • Inspect your home for damage. Turn off the utilities in your home (natural gas, electricity, and water) if you did not do so prior to the storm and there is evidence of utility damage caused by the storm.
  • Report downed power lines, gas leaks, and other utility problems in your neighborhood to the authorities.
  • Do not drink tap water until the authorities say it is safe.
  • Do not drive unless it is necessary (roadways must be kept clear for emergency responders).
  • Stay away from waterways and low lying areas until occurring or potential flooding has passed.

Identify the source

  • If you know the source of the water and are confident of your abilities to stop it (i.e. unclog a drain, turn off water, etc.), do so cautiously.
  • Protect from water damage
  • Cover large objects with plastic sheeting
  • Carefully remove small or light objects out of the emergency area

Contact authorities

  • Call 3333 for TC Office of Public Safety

What to report

  • Report your name, phone number, and the location and severity of the leak or flood. Indicate whether art collections, books, or other valuables are involved or are in imminent danger.
  • Report any persons with disabilities who are in the area and may need to be relocated.

Provide assistance

  • Provide assistance to persons with mobility related disabilities. Notify the TC Office of Public Safety if persons with mobility related disabilities are in the area and may need to be relocated.
  • Provide assistance to other individuals in your immediate area.

Use Caution

  • If there are electrical appliances or electrical outlets near the leak, use extreme caution.
  • If there is any possible danger, evacuate the area.
  • Flood water can be contaminated. Avoid contact with sewer water, as it poses a serious health risk.
  • Avoid standing in flood water, as it can carry electrical current.
  • Avoid walking through flooded areas. As few as six inches of moving water can knock a person down.

What you should do:

  • Dial Public Safety at 212-678-3333 or call 911 or direct someone to do so and provide the following information:
    • Building name
    • Exact location within the building
    • Your name and phone number
    • Nature of the emergency /description of injured person’s injury or illness
    • Do not hang up until advised to do so by the dispatcher.
  • Render first aid if you are trained to do so.
  • If an AED is available, you may administer if you are trained to do so.
  • Stay calm. Keep injured person warm with a coat or blanket.
  • Do not move the injured person unless there is danger of further injury.
  • Do not give the injured person anything to eat or drink.

What you should know:

  • Medical emergencies and accidents may occur at any time and may involve a student, employee or visitor.
  • Some emergencies may only require first aid care, while others may require immediate medical attention.
  • Report all medical emergencies to Public Safety by dialing 212-678-3333.

What you should do:

  • Notify Public Safety at 212-678-3333 and provide the following information:
    • Location of the site affected
    • Type of problem or outage
    • Do not hang up until advised to do so by dispatcher.
  • Access your issued department flashlight. DO NOT light candles or other types of flames for lighting.
  • Proceed cautiously to an area that has emergency lighting.
  • Provide assistance to fellow occupants, especially those with disabilities.
  • FET members will carefully open their nearest evacuation box and utilize the flashlights to check on or help evacuate occupants.
  • Advise employees/students of the problem and actions to be taken once a determination has been made.

What you should know:

  • Depending on the extent and expected duration of the outage, the Incident Command Team will be activated to determine follow-up responses such as relocation, consolidation of food service, etc.
  • During failure of electricity, gas, water, or other utilities Teachers College will remain in operation to the extent possible.
  • There is no need to immediately evacuate. Wait for instructions. You may be advised to Shelter in Place.

Thunderstorms can produce flash flooding, destructive winds, and lightning.  In the U.S. lightning typically kills more people than tornadoes and hurricanes combined. Monitor weather forecasts and prepare to take protective actions when thunderstorms are expected.

When outdoors during a thunderstorm:

  • Lightning can strike up to 10 miles from the area where it is raining. If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance. Seek safe shelter immediately inside an enclosed building that has electrical service or plumbing (which provide electrical grounding) or an enclosed motor vehicle.  WHEN THUNDER ROARS-'GET INDOORS!
  • When conducting outdoor activities have a plan on how you will respond to a thunderstorm.  Know where you will shelter if a thunderstorm occurs.  Stop your activities at the first sound of thunder and move to your shelter.  
  • During a thunderstorm avoid low lying areas that are prone to flash flooding such as drainage areas, rivers, and streams.  
  • If you outdoors in a forested area and a structure or motor vehicle is not available, take shelter under a thick growth of small trees.  Never stand under a tall, isolated tree.
  • When outdoors during a thunderstorm, avoid the tops of hills and ridgelines.  Seek shelter somewhere downslope or in a valley, but avoid areas prone to flash floods.
  • Avoid open areas such as fields and beaches during a thunderstorm. 
  • If on the water and a thunderstorm threatens: get out of the water.  If aboard a boat and you cannot reach shore quickly, go into an enclosed cabin or lie low as possible inside the boat.
  • Feeling your hair stand on end during a thunderstorm means that lightning is about to strike nearby.  Do not lie down on the ground (this places much of your body in contact with the ground and increase your chance of being badly shocked if lightning hits the ground nearby).  Instead, squat on the balls of your feet, place your hands over your ears, and tuck your head between your knees.  This limits the surface area of your body touching the ground.

When indoors during a thunderstorm:

  • Do not shower or bathe. Stay away from pools (indoor or outdoor), tubs, showers, and other plumbing.  Use ground fault protectors on circuits near water.
  • Stay off corded telephones, computers, and other electrical equipment that puts you in direct contact with electricity.  Use surge protectors for important electronics. 
  • Unplug electronics and turn off air conditioners.
  • Stay away from windows and do not stay out on unenclosed porches or patios.
  • Wait 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder before going back outside.

Helping a lightning strike victim:

Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge, are safe to touch, and need urgent medical attention. Cardiac arrest is the immediate cause of death for those who die. Some deaths can be prevented if the victim receives the proper first aid immediately. 

Call 9-1-1 immediately and perform CPR if the person is unresponsive or not breathing. Use an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) if one is available. 

Tornadoes can occur with little or no warning and can result from thunderstorms and hurricanes. The high winds of a tornado can cause death or serious injury due to flying objects and debris, collapsed buildings, and downed power lines.

If tornado conditions are expected in the TC campus area, information will be broadcast to the College community via TCAlert. You should monitor TCAlert and media sources during tornado watches.

When a Tornado Warning is received for the campus area, the TC community will be advised to seek shelter indoors through the use of the Information Boards and TCAlert. Go to an interior windowless room or hallway in the basement or on the lower floors of your building.

Since there can be little or no warning of a tornado, you should think about possible shelter locations in the buildings in which you live, work, or visit before a storm occurs. Practice going to these locations.

When there is advance warning of possible tornado activity or other severe wind conditions, property and equipment not properly anchored should be moved inside a building or tied down. Close the windows.

If you outside during a tornado watch:

  • Monitor information sources.Be prepared to take shelter at any time.
  • Avoid large, flat buildings with wide open interior areas such as supermarkets, shopping malls, and recreation field houses.
  • Watch the sky for the signs of tornado activity: funnel shaped clouds, dark, greenish sky, large hail, and a loud roar similar to the sound of a freight train.

If you are outside during a tornado warning or see signs of tornado activity:

  • Leave your vehicle or mobile home. Seek shelter in the interior of a sturdy building or a designated tornado shelter.
  • Never try to outrun a tornado. Do not take shelter under a bridge or overpass.
  • If you are caught outside and no suitable shelter is available, lie flat in a ditch or other depression and cover your head with your hands.

After the tornado passes:

  • Watch out for unstable debris, broken glass, damaged structures, and downed power lines.
  • Be careful when entering damaged buildings.Do not enter those that have sustained heavy structural damage.

Severe winter weather such as heavy snow, blizzards, and ice storms can pose multiple hazards including, high winds, decreased visibility, dangerously low temperatures, road and sidewalk icing, and blocked roads.  Driving, walking, and other outdoor activities can be dangerous under such conditions.

Monitor severe winter weather conditions and adjust your activities accordingly. Avoid unnecessary travel or outdoor activities.  Listen to Local television and radio stations (CBS 2, NBC 4 WNEW 5, WABC 7 and WOR 9. 1010 WINS or 880 WCBS) to stay up to date to weather changes.  If necessary, information will be posted on the TC web site or TC Alert.

Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than a single layer of heavy clothing. Layering allows you to adjust the amount of insulation based on your outdoor activity to prevent sweating. Sweat soaked clothing in cold weather can lead to hypothermia. Have an outer layer available that is tightly woven and water repellent.

Protect your extremities. Wear a warm hat that covers your ears, a scarf or face mask to cover your mouth, gloves or mittens, and insulated boots. This will help prevent frostbite.

Avoid overexertion in cold weather. For example, overexertion while shoveling snow can cause a heart attack, a major cause of death in the winter.  

Watch for signs of frostbite. These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If signs of frostbite are detected, warm the body part slowly and get medical help.

Watch for signs of hypothermia, a dangerous lowering of the body's core temperature. These include uncontrollable shivering, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the body core (place victim in blanket or sleeping bag with another person), and give warm, non-alcoholic drinks if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.

Fuel you vehicle before the storm. Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive, travel during the day, don't travel alone, stay on main roads and avoid back road shortcuts, and keep others informed of your schedule.

Maintain a home Disaster Supply Kit in case severe winter weather prevents you from going out for supplies or causes a power failure. The kit should contain battery powered radio, blankets/sleeping bags, first aid supplies, flashlights and extra batteries, medications, minimum 3 day supply of nonperishable food and water, and pet items and baby items, if applicable.

Have a "GO Kit" in your car containing essential emergency items in case you get stranded on the road (food, water, blankets, flashlight and extra batteries, cellphone, etc.).

Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids and eat high-caloric foods to help maintain body heat.

If severe winter weather keeps you in your home:

  • When using supplemental heating sources such as fireplaces or kerosene space heaters in your home, make sure you have proper ventilation and a carbon monoxide detector in place. DO NOT use charcoal burning devices indoors.
  • Keep space heaters away from flammable materials. Never leave them unattended. Always take your space heater outside to refill it. Remember: such supplemental heating sources are not permitted in TC facilities.
  • Open spigots to allow a small, continuous drip to prevent freezing pipes. Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to un-insulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.
  • Move your vehicles inside a garage, if possible. Never leave a vehicle running with the garage door closed.

If a blizzard traps you on the road: 

  • Turn on hazard lights and hang a distress flag from the vehicle antenna. Remain in your vehicle where rescuers are most likely to find you. Do not set out on foot unless you can see a building close by where you know you can take shelter. Remember that a building may seem close, but be too far to walk in deep snow.
  • Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to help stay warm. When the engine is running, open an upwind window slightly for ventilation. Periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe.
  • Exercise to maintain body heat, but avoid overexertion and sweating. In extreme cold you can use seat covers, road maps, floor mats, etc. for insulation. Huddle with other passengers to share body warmth.
  • Take turns sleeping. One person should be awake at all times to signal rescue crews.
  • Drink fluids to avoid dehydration (even if you don't feel thirsty).
  • Do not waste battery power. Turn on the inside light at night so that rescuers can see you.
  • If stranded in a remote area, stomp large letters in an open area to spell out HELP and line with brush or tree limbs to attract the attention of airborne observers.

TC Weather Closings:

The College Administration will announce decisions regarding postponement or suspension of campus activities or closure of the College through TCAlert and the TC web site.

Stay informed. Information will be broadcast to the TC community via TCAlert, the TC web site and the Columbia University website. In addition, a message is left on the College phone system, 212-678-3000. Announcements will also be made via television and radio stations (CBS 2, NBC 4 WNEW 5, WABC 7 and WOR 9. 1010 WINS or 880 WCBS) to stay up to date to weather changes.

Help keep campus parking lots clear during snowstorms or in anticipation of a predicted snowstorm. 

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