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Tips to Keep Everyone Safe during an Emergency Situation

Nobody wants to face a lockdown situation but being prepared can save your life and the life of others. Like schools and other workplaces, all organizations should have an updated emergency lockdown plan in place. These plans are designed to keep occupants safe and accounted for during an emergency. These drills cover what to do and what not to do when faced with various emergencies—such as fires, earthquakes, power outages, violence, bomb threats, and cyber threats. Familiarizing the occupants of the building with updated safety plans and occasional lockdown drills will ensure everyone is prepared.

With training exercises and drills, you can educate all occupants in your building about emergency plans, including the location of the nearest emergency doors in case of an evacuation. The more familiar they are with the safety procedures, the easier it will be to follow them in a real emergency. Fear can be overwhelming in an emergency situation, making it difficult to act appropriately. But with a practiced plan, occupants will be able to react quickly.

Types of emergencies that warrant lockdowns include:

  • Active shooters;
  • Violent intruders;
  • Riots;
  • Hostage situations;
  • Natural disasters;
  • Nearby police activity; and,
  • The release of hazardous chemicals.

Types of Emergency Lockdowns

Hold and Secure

Organizations implement this procedure when there is an unrelated threat outside the building (i.e. a bank robbery nearby). The exterior doors remain locked to prevent the threat from entering the building. In these situations, occupants typically continue with their regular activities inside.

Shelter in Place

To stay protected from an external health hazard, occupants must remain inside the building. These external hazards include dangerous weather and chemicals released by:

  • A gas leak/break in a natural gas pipeline;
  • A chemical spill;
  • An industrial accident;
  • Transport trucks; and,
  • A terrorist attack.

To prevent exposure to harmful chemicals, close, lock, and seal all windows, doors, and vents. Also, shut down heating and air conditioning systems to avoid hazardous materials from transferring between rooms.


You should enforce a lockdown when there is an immediate internal threat within the school or organization (i.e. an active shooter) or related to the school or organization (i.e. a bomb threat). Help everyone remember the lockdown procedure with this simple phrase: Locks, lights, out of sight.

Lockdown Instructions for Faculty & Staff

  • Clear occupants from hallways, bathrooms, and any area that is not secure;
  • Immediately lock all windows and doors. If they can’t lock, block them with heavy objects. And only open them when instructed by an official;
  • Turn off all the lights and close the blinds and curtains;
  • Instruct all occupants—students or staff—to stay low, hidden, silent, spread out, and away from windows and doors;
  • Assist those with special needs to safety, giving clear directions;
  • Account for every student or staff member in the room;
  • Do not let anyone leave the office, workplace, or classroom;
  • Turn off electronics and silence cell phones; and,
  • Stay inside the locked area until authorities inform you that it is safe to leave.

Lockdown Instructions for Students

  • Follow all instructions;
  • Remain calm, silent, still, and alert;
  • Only use your cell phone if you are instructed to do so, or if you are experiencing an emergency while on lockdown; and,
  • If you know someone is pulling a prank, inform faculty and staff immediately.

An emergency response plan for lockdowns is necessary to protect all building occupants from internal and external threats. When it comes to protecting your students and staff, you can never be too cautious.

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