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Sheltering-in-Place (SIP) During an Emergency

During an emergency, one of the instructions you may be given is to shelter-in-place. This is a precaution aimed to keep you safe while remaining indoors until an incident has been declared “all clear” and it is safe to resume normal operations.

If you’re instructed to shelter-in-place, take refuge in a small, interior room, with no or few windows until you receive confirmation that the situation is under control and you are no longer required to shelter-in-place.

Shelter-in-Place Causes

You may be instructed to shelter-in-place due to an accidental release of chemical, biological, or radiological contaminants, the intentional release of chemical, biological, or radiological contaminants due to a terrorist incident, a natural disaster, or for personal protection because of a criminal incident.

Normally evacuation is the most common protective action taken when an airborne hazard, such as smoke or noxious odor, is found in a building. In most cases, existing general evacuation plans apply to evacuation in response to these types of incidents.

However, a general evacuation may not be the best course of action for an external hazardous materials incident, particularly one that is widespread, such as a tanker car chemical explosion. Since a general evacuation will most likely expose individuals to the hazardous conditions and a rapid evacuation may not be possible, individuals are encouraged to shelter-in-place.

You can achieve a greater level of protection by sheltering-in-place rather than risking direct exposure to the hazardous conditions. You can also achieve a higher level of protection by taking shallow breaths and covering your nose and mouth with a damp cloth.

In all emergencies, follow the instructions provided through the Emergency Notification System and, if possible and safe to do so, use a computer to find out more information or turn on a TV or radio.

Most importantly, remain calm.


Important Resources

Emergency Dispatch:
Non-Emergency Dispatch:
Police, Fire, & Medical Emergencies:
Environmental Health & Safety (Chemical Spills):
215-596-8925, 215-596-8843
Student Health Services:
Walking Escort:
Penn Transport Services:
215-898-RIDE (7433)


Michael E. Lapotasky, MA Ed, Director of Public Safety and Emergency Management Coordinator


University of the Sciences
600 South 43rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-4495


Office: 215-895-1118
Cell: 908-334-8877