Emergency Evacuation Procedures

Emergency Evacuation Procedures

Wilkes University requires all persons to leave any facility where an emergency evacuation alarm is activated as promptly as possible via the nearest available exit. If an alarm has not been activated, but it becomes clear that an emergency exists, all persons must leave immediately. Alarm pull stations should be activated upon exit.

No one is expected to endanger themselves in order to effect or assist with evacuation of others, but everyone has a duty to ensure that other occupants are aware of an emergency. Similarly, it is expected that individuals will, to the best of their ability, aid anyone requiring assistance to safely evacuate.



The Department of Public Safety will issue all campus alerts and announcements through the Wilkes Emergency Notification System. Alerts and announcements will also be posted to the Wilkes University website.

Wilkes Emergency Notification System (Wilkes ALERT)
The Wilkes Emergency Notification System is comprised of text, email, and web based notifications.

Campus Open
Wilkes University is observing normal operating hours and activities.

Campus Closed
When "campus closed" is announced, only those employees identified as essential will remain on campus. All other faculty, staff, and students will depart campus. No one should return until a returning procedure is announced. Continue to monitor the Wilkes website for updates. Campus shuttles will be stopped.

"Shelter in place" is a directive to seek immediate shelter indoors following the announcement of an emergency condition. The act of sheltering in an area inside a building offers occupants an elevated level of protection. Sheltering can be related to a variety of situations, including: severe weather emergencies, hazardous condition, chemical release, or criminal activity.

Shelter-in-Place — Severe Weather
To shelter in place in the event of severe weather is the act of sheltering in an area inside a building that offers occupants an elevated level of protection during a tornado or other severe weather related emergency.

Go to the lowest level of the building, if possible.

  • Stay away from the windows.
  • Go to interior hallways.
  • Monitor emergency communications for specific instructions.

Shelter-in-Place — Chemical, Biological or Radiological

  • A place of shelter is an area inside a building that offers occupants an elevated level of protection during an accident or intentional release of a chemical, biological or radiological agent.
  • Note: Many toxic chemicals have a vapor density greater than that of air, and will seek lowest ground. In the case of a shelter in place due to a chemical spill, do not shelter below grade. Follow instructions provided by emergency personnel.
  • Go inside the nearest building.
  • Close all doors, windows and other inlets from the outside.
  • Facilities will shut down the fresh air intake or Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) System, if possible.
  • Monitor emergency communications for specific instructions.


  • The directive "lockdown"" is used to stop access and/or egress, as appropriate, to all or a portion of the buildings on campus.

All Clear
A distinct signal or message provided by public safety officials that indicates the threat or dangerous situation has ended. If you are registered for the WENS, this will be provided in the same way that an initial emergency notification is received.

  • any time the fire alarm sounds,
  • an evacuation announcement is made, or
  • a university official orders you to evacuate. (Any Wilkes staff or faculty person may issue an evacuation notification of a classroom or office area. The purpose is to move people away from any potentially threatening situation.)
  • Become familiar with your work area and exit locations in advance of an emergency. Always know at least two ways out of a building.
  • If a fire alarm sounds, prepare to evacuate immediately.
  • Do not panic. Walk quickly to the closest emergency exit.
  • DO NOT use elevators. If power is disrupted, elevators will stop working.
  • Walk in a single file. Stay to the right when walking through corridors and stairwells.
  • Avoid unnecessary talking and keep the lines moving.
  • Individuals requiring assistance in an evacuation should proceed to a stairwell entrance area and wait for assistance.
  • If smoke is encountered, drop to the floor and crawl along the wall to the nearest exit.
  • When approaching a closed door, feel the door with the back of your hand. If the door is cool, carefully open the door and, if safe, proceed with the evacuation.
  • No one is to return to the building until permission is granted by the local fire department or Wilkes Public Safety.
  • Stay away from building entrances to avoid interfering with emergency personnel or equipment.
  • Sterling, Rifkin, Catlin, Weiss: Go to River Front Park directly across South River Street.
  • Evans, Conyngham, Evans Alumni House, Roth, Stark, Cohen, Chase, Kirby, Kirby Center, Farley Library, Fenner, Capin, Breiseth, Sturdevant, Pearsall: Go to the greenway.
  • Bedford, Henry Student Center, Schiowitz, Fortinsky, Max Roth Center, Passan, Chase, Slocum: Go to the Student Center Parking Lot.
  • Darte Center, Cox, Ross, O'Hop, Sullivan, Michelini (Barre), Doane, Waller North & South, President's House, McCole House: Go to the River Front Park north of the Darte Center.
  • Marts Sports Center, Minor-Moat House, Facilities Building, 32 W. South St.: Go to the Barnum Parking Lot.
  • UCOM, Hollenback, Weckesser & Annex: Go to UCOM Parking Lot.
  • University Towers, Public Safety, 141 S. Main St.: Go to University Towers Parking Lot behind the building.
  • Munson Field House: Go to the Ralston Field Parking Lot.
Emergency Evacuation Zones

Staging and Accountability:
All employees/students/visitors must report to the building's evacuation collection area in the event of a building evacuation.
  • When you reach the designated assembly area, the professor or supervisor will take roll.
  • If a person is missing, and may still be in the building, immediately notify the nearest public safety officer or emergency personnel.
    • Report the building name and room number and the number of missing persons to emergency response personnel.
  • Keep everyone together and remain in the assembly area unless instructed to leave or assemble elsewhere.
  • Re-entry into the building is not permitted unless authorized by the Wilkes-Barre Fire Department or Wilkes Public Safety.

If an emergency evacuation is necessary, here are some helpful guidelines:

Persons with limited mobility who are able to walk independently, either with or without the use of crutches or a cane, may be able to negotiate stairs with minor assistance in an emergency situation. Even some persons who customarily use a wheelchair or scooter for long distance travel may be able to walk independently in an emergency situation. If individuals are able to walk up or down stairs, it is advisable that they wait until the heavy traffic has cleared before attempting to evacuate if possible. Someone should walk beside the person to provide assistance in exiting the building, if needed.

The most recent advice from fire and campus safety experts is that wheelchair users should exit the building on their own if they are able to do so. If they encounter stairs or otherwise cannot exit independently, wheelchair users should move to, and remain at, a designated area of rescue assistance until emergency rescue personnel arrive. It is very important for wheelchair users to update their emergency evacuation plan each semester, identifying appropriate exits and designated areas of rescue assistance for every class and activity they participate in. Faculty and staff should also familiarize themselves with the areas of rescue assistance in their buildings. When it is necessary for a wheelchair user to take shelter in a rescue assistance area a specific person should be designated to inform emergency personnel of the individual's exact location. If rescue is deemed necessary, qualified personnel should assist in the evacuation. Please be aware that the person with the disability is the best authority on how to be moved.

Visual Impairments
Most people with vision loss will be familiar with their immediate surroundings. However, smoke, power outages, and other events may greatly impact the ability of a visually impaired person to safely evacuate. In the event of an emergency, tell the person with a visual impairment the nature of the emergency and offer to guide him or her to the nearest emergency exit. Have the person take your elbow as you offer escort out of the building. As you walk, tell the individual where you are and advise of any obstacles (stairs, doors, etc.). When you reach safety, orient the person to their surroundings and ask if any further assistance is needed.

Hearing Impairments
If a building is not equipped with visual fire alarms, some individuals may not hear audio emergency alarms and will need to be alerted to the situation by gestures, turning the light switch on and off, or a short written note, gestures or by turning the light switch on and off. Emergency instructions can be given by speaking (for those who read lips very well) or by a short, explicit note. Example: "Fire alarms—go out south doors—now!"