Responding in an emergency

Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the emergency, the first important decision to make is whether you should stay where you are or if you should leave. You should think about and plan for either possibility. Use common sense and the information available to you to determine if you are in any immediate danger.

Keep in mind that in an emergency, local authorities may not be able to provide up-to-date information on what is happening and what you should do. Monitor emergency information channels for information or official instructions as they become available. Do your best to verify the facts, and try not to make decisions on the basis of rumors.

Whether you are at home, school, work or elsewhere, there may be situations when it’s simply best to stay where you are to avoid any uncertainty outside.

There are other circumstances when staying where you are and creating a barrier between yourself and, for instance, potentially contaminated air outside is a matter of survival. Use available information to assess the situation.


Sheltering-in-place is recommended when being outside poses a threat, either from a violent act or a concern about air quality. The decision to shelter in place may be your own, or it may come from MIT or another authority. In either case, here are some tips in the event you have to remain where you are:

  • Find out where the pre-determined shelter-in-place area is for your building. If there isn’t one, remain in your room with your door locked.
  • Check with the MIT information line (617-253-SNOW) for information, updates and recommendations, as well as the MIT emergency website, TV, and radio;
  • Keep windows and window blinds shut. If advised, also cover and duct tape air vents, and turn off all the air handling equipment (heating, ventilation, and/or air conditioning) that you can control.

Evacuation plans

There may be situations under which you decide to leave campus, or local authorities ask you to leave. In the event you are asked to leave the building or you make a decision to leave, make sure you are fully prepared.

  • Plan destinations within and outside of MIT, and tell your family and friends what your plan is and when you expect to arrive.
  • If you have a car, maintain it in good condition and keep at least a half tankful of gas. If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if you have to.
  • Prepare an emergency kit, and take it with you if you have to leave.
  • Lock your room or your home when you leave. Leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going.
  • If you have a pet, plan how you would care for it in an emergency.

Emergency Information
on-campus: 3-SNOW (3-7669)
off-campus/cell: 617-253-7669

MIT Police
on-campus: 100
off-campus/cell: 617-253-1212

MIT Medical
on-campus: 3-1311
off-campus/cell: 617-253-1311

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