Residence Hall Safety Procedures & Rules: Risk Management - Northwestern University

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When you first move into the building, familiarize yourself with the location of fire alarm pull stations, stairways and emergency exits. You should plan for a primary and an alternate means of emergency escape and become familiar with fire fighting equipment in or near your living and work areas. Read the instructions on the fire extinguishers and be certain you know which type is in your area. The University's primary concern in case of a fire is your safety and the safety of others in the building.

Tornado Procedure

Emergency services personnel from the City of Evanston keep a watchful eye on weather conditions and warn the populace of impending tornadoes. Civil Defense sirens will sound a continuous three-minute unwavering blast in the event a tornado has been sighted and the National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning. University Police will also receive notice of the warning by way of their State Police communications connection. In the event of a tornado warning, residents should take the following steps:

  1. If inside a building, go to an interior hallway or other enclosed area on a lower floor and away from windows.
  2. Avoid auditoriums, gymnasiums or other large rooms where roof collapse may be more likely to happen.
  3. In wood frame buildings, go to the basement or seek shelter under heavy furniture.
  4. If you are outside when the siren sounds, seek shelter indoors, preferably in a steel-framed or reinforced building of substantial construction.

Thunderstorms, Hail and Lightning

  1. Stay away from trees. Seek shelter inside and away from windows. Close drapes or other window coverings.
  2. Turn off and unplug electrical appliances.
  3. To avoid electrical shock do not use or come in contact with plumbing fixtures.

Earthquake Safety

  1. Survey your area for conditions that would pose hazards in an earthquake.
  2. In the event of an earthquake, "duck, cover, and hold" and when the initial shock is over leave the building. Do not go back into the building until it is cleared for reentry.

Gas Leaks

Gas leaks can be very dangerous, possibly resulting in a deadly fire or explosion, so be sure to know the signs of a gas leak and what to do in an emergency. There are three ways in which you can detect a gas leak:

  1. Smell: Natural gas is injected with a distinct odor, which many people equate to that of rotten eggs. Contact Nicor Gas for a scratch 'n' sniff card with this scent.
  2. Sight: Visible blowing dirt, bubbling water or discolored vegetation near a buried natural gas line.
  3. Sound: A hissing or blowing sound near the gas meter or gas appliances.

If you suspect that gas is leaking, follow these steps:

Emergency Procedures

  1. Exit the building or area immediately, leaving doors and windows open as you exit. Do not open windows if they are not already open. Do not use your telephone or cell phone, operate any appliance, light a match or turn light switches on or off.
  2. Call 911 from a neighboring location.
  3. Wait at the neighboring location until Univeraity Police determines it is safe to return.

Residence Hall Rules and Policies

Air Conditioners: The installation of air conditioners is prohibited.

Appliances: Evanston housing code forbids the use or storage in rooms of stoves, hot plates, coffee pots or other appliances for cooking or heating food or beverages, whether connected or not. In addition, other heat producing appliances such as irons may not be used in sleeping rooms. Refrigerators with interiors larger than three cubic feet are prohibited. For safety, unplug all appliances when not in use.

Arson: By Illinois law, a person commits aggravated arson when by means of fire or explosive, he or she knowingly damages, partially or totally, any building, and he or she knows or reasonably should know that one or more persons are present therein. Aggravated arson is a Class "X" felony. Imprisonment of not less than 6 years, without probation, must be sentenced upon conviction.

Bicycles: Bicycles may not be stored in any area of a residence hall other than in areas specifically designated for such use or in the owner's room. Bicycles parked in common areas, stairwells, attached to handrails, furniture or otherwise impeding egress from a building will be removed at the bicycle owner's expense. All bicycles left lying on grassed areas or blocking entrances, sidewalks, stairways, passageways, or found chained to stair, hand or porch railings, or found inside University buildings will be impounded.

Combustible Materials: Excessive storage of combustible material in rooms is not allowed. Store combustible materials in a safe place away from heat sources. Storage of combustible materials in attics, furnace rooms, hallways, stairwells, or rooms used for electrical equipment is prohibited.

Decorations: Hanging blankets, rugs, fishnets or other draping are not permitted. Combustible decorations must not be put on ceilings, in entryways, on doors or near heat sources such as radiators or light bulbs. The building or installation of "lofts" shall be done only in conformance with rules and guidelines established by the Vice President for Student Affairs. All University furnishings and fixtures must always remain in assigned rooms.

During the holidays there is an increased use of decorations, everyone should be more alert to potential hazards. No natural trees or branches are permitted. Only artificial trees are acceptable. Tree lights should be Underwriters Laboratories approved.

Doors: All room doors should always be locked, especially when residents are not in the room. Required stairway fire doors shall be kept closed at all times.

Electrical: Multiple-plug outlet converters used for electrical appliances drawing more than the allowed amperage from the outlet are prohibited. Excessive numbers of appliances shall not be plugged into an outlet. Damaged or overloaded extension cords are prohibited. The use of extension cords, as permanent wiring is not allowed.

Exit Paths: Do not block exits. Arrange all furniture to provide a clear, unobstructed path to all exit doors. All exit doors, interior doors, exitways and other means of egress shall be kept clean of all materials, such as posters, papers and other combustibles.

Fire Drills: All occupants of a residence hall must leave the building during a fire exit drill.

Fire Equipment: Fire alarm systems in University buildings automatically transmit alarms to the University Police. Tampering with fire alarm equipment and/or extinguisher devices or using them for other purposes is prohibited. Sounding a false fire alarm is a violation of City and State law and will result in removal from University housing and other possible sanctions. Playing of games or other activities that could cause a false alarm or obstruct emergency egress are prohibited.

Fire Escapes: A fire escape is for emergency exiting of the building only. Storage of any kind on a fire escape is prohibited.

Flammable Liquids: Flammable and toxic liquids or materials are not allowed in sleeping rooms.

Halogen Lamps: Halogen floor lamps have been the cause of a number of serious fires on college campuses across the United States. Therefore, only halogen floor lamps manufactured after February 1997 should be used. Use only lamps that have been tested by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and have been fitted with glass or wire bulb guards. Take the time to look for the UL approval label and read all safety information that accompanies the lamp.

Open Flames, etc.: Lighted candles, fireworks, explosives and incendiary devices are prohibited. The possession or use of firearms or other weapons of any description and for any purpose is prohibited. Fireplaces are not to be used in residence halls.

Operation of Bicycles and Rollerblades: Bicycling and rollerblading is not allowed in University buildings. When bicycling or rollerblading on sidewalks, or along crosswalks and paths, the right-of-way shall be yielded to pedestrians and an audible signal given before overtaking or passing. In addition, bicyclists and rollerbladers must act and operate as pedestrians.

Roofs or Decks: Residents are prohibited from entering onto roofs or decks through any window, from using ladders, or other equipment or means to gain access, and from being present on roofs or decks for any purpose. Furniture of any kind is not allowed on roofs or decks. There shall be no physical activity or games of any kind allowed on roofs or decks.

Smoke Detectors: The tampering with or covering of a smoke detector is prohibited. It is a violation of City and State law and will result in removal from University housing and other possible sanctions.

Smoking: Smoking in residence halls is prohibited.

Vehicles or Combustion Engine/Generators: No motorcycle or combustion engine/generator is allowed in any area of any residence hall for storage or for any other purpose.