University of California, Berkeley
Office of Emergency Preparedness
Police Department
Office of Emergency Preparedness
About Us Emergencies Programs Services Resources Campus Disaster Response Alerting & Warning System Emergency Contacts


Location University Hall
Room 317
CA 94720-1150
Exit SignEvacuating A Building General Evacuation ProceduresIt is not always necessary to evacuate a building during an emergency. A power outage, for instance, does not necessarily call for evacuation of a building. The overall safety of the building must first be evaluated: lighting, hazardous materials, ventilation systems, and other hazardous operations. If the building can be safely occupied, evacuation is not necessary.

If evacuation is ordered, follow these procedures:

  • Stay calm, do not rush, and do not panic.
  • Safely stop your work.
  • Gather your personal belongings if it is safe to do so. (Reminder: take prescription medications out with you if at all possible; it may be hours before you are allowed back in the building.)
  • If safe, close your office door and window, but do not lock them.
  • Use the nearest safe stairs and proceed to the nearest exit. Do not use the elevator.
  • Proceed to the designated Emergency Assembly Area (EAA) and report to your roll taker.
  • Wait for any instructions from emergency responders.
  • Do not re-enter the building or work area until you have been instructed to do so by the emergency responders.

Regional Evacuations:

In a major emergency, such as a wildland fire, large hazardous materials release or a threat of explosion, certain regions of the campus, up to the entire campus, may be evacuated. In the case of a regional evacuation, the UC Police Department will determine and implement such orders, as the situation warrants. In order to minimize the time required to evacuate and manage traffic congestion, a phased evacuation will likely be ordered, with the areas closest to the danger area evacuated first. In such an event the alerting and warning system, police officers or runners will be used to convey the order to evacuate and the direction(s) that should be utilized for the emergency condition in effect.

In directing campus evacuations, the Police Dept. uses a Geographic Information System (GIS) based model that provides planning information useful in ordering a large scale evacutation. The Emergency Evacuation Plan Model accounts for the dynamic population variations that occur on campus during the workweek, as well as pathway distances and topography. The model was developed by graduate students Nikki Foletta, Wintana Debessay, and Anh Phan Nguyen under the auspices of Professor John Radke's City and Regional Planning 255 course. Detailed information about planning assumptions, time to evacuate and precise evacuation routes are provided in the model.

For detailed information about the shortest, most accessible pathway for exiting from each campus EMA, please see the EMA Evacuation Routes. One main evacuation path has been designated leading to each of the 4 compass points, North, South, East and West. While these are not the only ways to evacuate from the campus, each path has been reviewed for width and terrain, and are the paths used in the Model noted above. Once you've reached the City streets, emergency response personnel will provide further instructions, such as whether you should drive your car/bike/motorcycle, take mass transit, and which direction to head for safe egress.


Evacuation Procedures for People with Disabilities The following guidelines have been adopted by the Berkeley campus to assist in planning for the evacuation of people with physical disabilities.

After an evacuation has been ordered:

  • People with disabilities will often need assistance to evacuate.
  • DO NOT use elevators, unless authorized to do so by police or fire personnel. Elevators could fail during a fire or major earthquake.
  • If the situation is life threatening, call 9-1-1(from a cell phone, call 510 642-3333).
  • Check on people with mobility disabilities during an evacuation.
  • Attempt a rescue evacuation ONLY if you have had rescue training or the person is in immediate danger and cannot wait for professional assistance.
  • Always ASK someone with a disability how you can help BEFORE attempting any rescue technique or giving assistance. Ask how he or she can best be assisted or moved, and whether there are any special considerations or items that need to come with the person. In particular, be aware when assisting someone with a disability (source: )
    • The individual with the disability is the best expert in his or her disability, so ask that individual for advice before lifting or moving that person.
    • Take extra time when communicating with people who are deaf, hearing impaired, or speech impaired.
    • Never separate a disabled person from his or her assistive aids: wheelchairs, canes, hearing aids, medications, special diet food, urinary supplies, etc.
    • A disabled person's equipment may not be working after a disaster occurs, or it may be insufficient for emergency circumstances.
    • A service animal, usually a dog, is an assistive aid used by some blind, deaf and mobility impaired people. A disaster may temporarily confuse service animals and they may not be able to help their owners as effectively as before the disaster.
    • Some individuals with emotional and developmental disabilities may be too unsettled to respond appropriately to instructions and directions, such as a public address announcement to evacuate a building. Some disabled individuals may need to be in a quiet place for a while to regain their composure; others may even try to hide from rescue workers.
    • Some individuals with significant mental or learning disabilities might not understand the significance of "Keep Out" signs and barricade tape.

Response To Emergencies

Blindness or Visual Impairment
Bomb Threat, Earthquake, Fire, Hazardous Materials Releases, and Power Outages:

  • Give verbal instructions to advise about safest route or direction using compass directions, estimated distances, and directional terms.
  • DO NOT grasp a visually impaired person’s arm. Ask if he or she would like to hold onto your arm as you exit, especially if there is debris or a crowd.
  • Give other verbal instructions or information (i.e. elevators cannot be used).

Deafness or Hearing Loss
Bomb threat, Earthquake, Fire, Hazardous Materials Releases, and Power Outages:

  • Get the attention of a person with a hearing disability by touch and eye contact. Clearly state the problem. Gestures and pointing are helpful, but be prepared to write a brief statement if the person does not seem to understand.
  • Offer visual instructions to advise of safest route or direction by pointing toward exits or evacuation maps.

Mobility Impairment
Bomb Threat, Earthquake, Fire, and Hazardous Materials Releases:

  • It may be necessary to help clear the exit route of debris (if possible) so that the person with a disability can move out or to a safer area.
  • If people with mobility impairments cannot exit, they should move to a safer area, e.g. most upper floors have a Designated Waiting Area to wait for assistance from first responders.
  • Most enclosed stairwells
  • An office with the door shut with is a good distance from the hazard (and away from falling debris in the case of earthquakes)
  • If you do not know the Designated Waiting Areas in your building, DWA locations are described online or you may call the campus Fire Marshal's office at 642-4409.
  • Notify police or fire personnel immediately about any people remaining in the building and their locations
  • Police or fire personnel with decide whether people are safe where they are, and will evacuate them as necessary. The Fire Department may determine that it is safe to override the rule against using elevators
  • If people are in immediate danger and cannot be moved to a safer area to wait for assistance, it may be necessary to evacuate them using an evacuation chair or a carry technique. On the ground floor of almost all buildings is an evacuation cabinet containing an evacuation chair.
  • Evacuating Persons with wheelchairs (source-
    1. Discuss with the user of the wheelchair how to lift the user and the wheelchair ether together or separately. When circumstances necessitate separating the user and the wheelchair, keep the period of separation to a minimum.
    2. Some parts of a wheelchair are safe to lift from, others will come off when lifted. Always ask the user to confirm where it is safe to lift. Also, ask the user what else about his or her wheelchair you should know in order to lift it safely.
    3. Wheelchairs with four wheels (not three-wheeled scooters) usually have handbrakes on each side of the chair. When the wheelchair is to remain stationary, set both brakes.
    4. When more than one flight of stairs is traversed, helpers may need to switch positions since one person may be doing most of the lifting. Switch positions only on a level landing.
    5. When the lifting is complete, follow the instructions of the chair's user and restore the manual or motorized wheelchair to full operation; then direct the user to a safe area.
    6. Evacuating a disabled or injured person yourself is the last resort. Consider your options and the risks of injuring yourself and others in an evacuation attempt. Do not make an emergency situation worse. Evacuation is difficult and uncomfortable for both the rescuers and people being assisted. Some people have conditions that can be aggravated or triggered if they are moved incorrectly. Remember that environmental conditions (smoke, debris, loss of electricity) will complicate evacuation efforts.
  • Evacuating a disabled or injured person yourself is the last resort. Consider your options and the risks of injuring yourself and others in an evacuation attempt. Do not make an emergency situation worse. Evacuation is difficult and uncomfortable for both the rescuers and people being assisted. Some people have conditions that can be aggravated or triggered if they are moved incorrectly. Remember that environmental conditions (smoke, debris, loss of electricity) will complicate evacuation efforts.

Power Outages

  • If an outage occurs during the day and people with disabilities choose to wait in the building for electricity to be restored, they can move near a window where there is natural light and access to a working telephone. During regular building hours, Building Coordinators should be notified so they can advise emergency personnel.
  • If people would like to leave and an evacuation has been ordered, or if the outage occurs at night, call the University Police at 642-6760 from a campus telephone to request evacuation assistance from the Fire Department.
  • Some multi-button campus telephones may not operate in a power outage, but single-line telephones and pay telephones are likely to be operating. As soon as information is available, the campus emergency information line (642-4335) will have a recorded message stating when power is likely to be restored.


The following guidelines are general and may not apply in every circumstance.

  • Occupants should be invited to volunteer ahead of time to assist disabled people in an emergency. If volunteers are not available, designate someone to assist who is willing to accept the responsibility.
  • Volunteers should obtain evacuation training for certain types of lifting techniques through the Disabled Student’s Program (D.S.P.).
  • Two or more trained volunteers, if available, should conduct the evacuation.
  • DO NOT evacuate disabled people in their wheelchairs. This is standard practice to ensure the safety of disabled people and volunteers. Wheelchairs will be evacuated later if possible.
  • Always ASK disabled people how you can help BEFORE attempting any rescue technique or giving assistance. Ask how they can best be assisted or moved, and if there are any special considerations or items that need to come with them.
  • Before attempting an evacuation, volunteers and the people being assisted should discuss how any lifting will be done and where they are going.
  • Proper lifting techniques (e.g. bending the knees, keeping the back straight, holding the person close before lifting, and using leg muscles to lift) should be used to avoid injury to rescuer’s backs. Ask permission of the evacuee if an evacuation chair or similar device is being considered as an aid in an evacuation. When using such devices, make sure the person is secured properly. Be careful on stairs and rest at landings if necessary.
  • Certain lifts may need to be modified depending on the disabilities of the people.
SummaryPrepare occupants in your building ahead of time for emergency evacuations. Know your building occupants. Train staff, faculty, and students to be aware of the needs of people with disabilities and to know how to offer assistance. Hold evacuation drills in which occupants participate, and evaluate drills to identify areas that need improvement. Plans must cover regular working hours, after hours, and weekends.

Everyone needs to take responsibility for preparing for emergencies. People with disabilities should consider what they would do and whether they need to take additional steps to prepare. Emergency Guidelines for People with Disabilities are attached. If you have questions about this policy or need additional information, contact one of the campus organizations below:

  • Evacuation policies: Office of Emergency Preparedness
  • Disability issues: Disabled Students’ Program
  • Fire regulations, safe areas: Campus Fire Marshal

(See also: Guidelines for People with Disabilities. These guidelines will help the disable person make their own preparedness plan.)





UC Seal
OEP Home Site Map Feedback Contact Webmaster Contact Us
©20062012 University of California, Berkeley; Office of Emergency Preparedness. All rights reserved.