Emergency Management

SMU Safety FAQs

SMU Safety FAQs

Knowing what to do before, during and after an emergency – as well as how you will be notified – is essential.  

Below is a table of contents to the Frequently Asked Questions that are answered here; this information can help you to be prepared before an emergency and know what to expect during an emergency.

CONTENTS:

BEFORE AN EMERGENCY
• What emergency contact information do I need to maintain?
• How do I prepare for a potential emergency on campus?
• Where do I find more information? 
ALERTS DURING AN EMERGENCY
• How is the SMU campus alerted of a potential or ongoing emergency?
• What will the SMU Emergency alert tell me?
• How will I receive updates?
• Are there other sources of information at SMU?
• How is the campus advised when an incident is over? 
• Why do I receive SMU Emergency alerts before or after my friends?
• What about emergencies that don’t affect the entire campus? Will I be informed in those cases as well?
ACTIONS DURING AN EMERGENCY
• What are the actions I’ll be asked to take during different emergency situations?
HOW ALERTS WORK
• What if SMU is on lockdown and I am outside?
• What should I do if I live on campus and a bomb threat occurs?
• What should I do if I live off campus?
• What should I do if I am outdoors and a siren goes off?
• What should I do if I am indoors and a siren goes off?
• What if I am in class or taking an exam with my cell phone off?
AFTER AN EMERGENCY
• How will I know an emergency has ended? 
• What else takes place following an emergency situation?
SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY
• What should I do if I see something suspicious?
• What are some examples of suspicious activities? 
• What are some examples of suspicious packages?
• To whom should I report something suspicious?

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

BEFORE AN EMERGENCY

What emergency contact information do I need?

• SMU Police: 911 or 214-768-3333 
• SMU home page: www.smu.edu
• @SMU on Twitter
• Unless you have critical information for SMU Police, do not call to ask, “What’s happening?” – you will tie up vital police communications.

How do I prepare for a potential emergency on campus?

• Keep your contact information updated in the ACCESS.SMU system.
• Know how to Evacuate, Shelter and Lockdown.
• Read the KNOW WHAT TO DO instructions at www.smu.edu/emergency and posted in classrooms and buildings.
• View safety information and videos online at www.smu.edu/emergency.
• Watch for text and email updates from SMU Emergency.
• Follow @SMU on Twitter.
• Follow instructions from building personnel. 
• Participate in drills and practices.
• Put SMU Police on speed dial: 214-768-3333.
• Learn more during National Preparedness Month each September.

Where do I get more information?

• www.smu.edu/emergency
• http://smu.edu/healthcenter/emergency/
• The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides a basic disaster preparedness supply list at http://www.ready.gov/basic-disaster-supplies-kit.

ALERTS DURING AN EMERGENCY

How is the SMU campus alerted of a potential or ongoing emergency?

SMU’s Emergency Notification System consists of many different modes of communication, because no single method can reach every person, every time. Once a potential threat is identified and until it is resolved, SMU will communicate with you using one or more of these methods:

• Cell calls, text messages, emails
• Social media –Twitter/Facebook
• Public address systems in many buildings
• Public address speakers from police vehicles
• Building managers
• Outdoor siren/speaker 
• Computer pop-up messages on SMU-owned computers
• SMU home page www.smu.edu 
• Scoreboards (during athletic events)
• SMU Information Line 
• Word of mouth – learn from others; tell others

What will the SMU Emergency alert tell me?

• What action to take.
• The type of emergency.
• Which SMU campus is affected (main campus, SMU-in-Plano, SMU-in-Taos).
• When the emergency began. 

How will I receive updates?
• Follow-up messages will be sent as Tweets, and updates will be posted at www.smu.edu.
• Emergencies are changing situations; while every effort will be made to post timely updates, there will be times when you may be expecting more information than emergency officials have been able to secure. When in doubt, remain sheltered, evacuated or locked down until instructed otherwise.
• SMU will act out of an abundance of caution, and it’s critical to heed instructions or warnings given until you receive a “Return to Normal Activities” message. 

Are there other sources of information at SMU?
• Yes: SMU INFO (214-768-4636) and the SMU Parent Information Line (214-768-7273). In case of a major ongoing emergency, the Parent line will convert to a staffed phone bank.

How is the campus advised when an incident is over? 
• In the case of major emergencies, text messages, email, building managers, Twitter, Facebook and the SMU website home page will be used.
• In the case of smaller, localized emergencies, the affected building personnel will be notified directly by first responders or building managers.

Why do I receive SMU Emergency alerts before or after my friends?
There are a number of reasons you may experience this.
• Areas in buildings with weaker cell reception or an especially high volume of cell phone traffic can affect how long it takes for your phone to receive a call or text.
• While SMU Emergency messages are sent to cell phone carriers in less than one minute, cell phone towers and carriers often experience network congestion causing delays. For this reason we do not rely solely on cell and text messages.
• A dramatic increase in cell phone use during an emergency also can cause delays in message/call delivery.

What about emergencies that don’t affect the entire campus? Will I be informed in those cases as well?
• These are handled on a case-by-case basis, but a campuswide notice may not be distributed if an emergency situation is confined to a particular area of campus and the threat is contained. In these instances, SMU Police and building managers may be the primary communications sources. Again, though, circumstances will determine the types of communications used.


ACTIONS DURING AN EMERGENCY

What should I do in different emergency situations?
Seek Shelter: Weather threats including tornados and heavy storms or a nearby chemical leak or some other hazard.

o Seek shelter inside the lowest level of a building and stay away from glass windows and doors. If there is no basement level, seek shelter in an interior restroom, closet or hallway. Do not leave the building until police or first responders give you a “Return to Normal Activities” message.

Evacuate: There is a danger inside or near the building such as a fire, gas leak or chemical spill.

o Exit the building – do not use elevators – and go to a location assigned by law enforcement and first responders. Take your cell phone with you. Do not return to the building until police or first responders give a “Return to Normal Activities” message.

Lockdown: There is a potential assailant, active shooter or other violence on or near the campus.

o Depending on the situation: hide where you are, under furniture; close shades or blinds and stay away from windows; lock and/or barricade doors; turn out lights; remain quiet. 
o As a last resort, run or fight to defend yourself. Call 911 if you can safely provide information for police, but mute the phone to avoid drawing attention to yourself. Remain silent until police give a “Return to Normal Activities” message.

HOW ALERTS WORK

What if SMU is on lockdown and I am outside?
• Run and hide and remain quiet; if necessary, fight to defend yourself.

What should I do if I live on campus and a bomb threat occurs?
• If the campus is evacuated due to a bomb threat, emergency instructions will be posted on the SMU home page at www.smu.edu directing you to an assembly area within the community. 
• Evacuation directions will be sent to building managers over the SMU emergency radio system and to the campus community through text messages, email and cell phones. 

What should I do if I live off campus?
• If an SMU Emergency alert is issued and you are off campus, check the SMU home page at www.smu.edu and stay alert for text and email messages and updates. Monitor social media and local media outlets. You may be advised to stay away from the campus.

What should I do if I am outdoors and a siren goes off?
• Immediately move indoors if possible and shelter until you receive a “Resolved” or similarly worded message from the police, first responders or SMU’s notification system.
(Note: SMU and the City of University Park regularly test sirens and loudspeakers the first Wednesday of each month about 1 p.m., unless existing weather concerns or other emergencies conflict with those tests.)

What should I do if I am indoors and a siren goes off?
• Remain indoors and follow the instructions provided by SMU Emergency personnel through the communications methods listed under “How is SMU Alerted.”

What if I am in class or taking an exam with my cell phone off?
• SMU will use many ways to issue alerts, including speaker systems in buildings, building manager checks of rooms and even bullhorns if needed. Faculty members who may have cell phones with them in class also are an important resource in an emergency.

AFTER AN EMERGENCY

How will I know an emergency has ended? 

SMU will communicate with you using one or more of these methods:

• Cell calls, text messages, emails
• Social media – Twitter/Facebook
• Public address systems in many buildings
• Public address speakers from police vehicles
• Building managers
• Campus speaker/siren
• Computer pop-up messages on SMU-owned computers
• SMU home page www.smu.edu 
• Scoreboards (during athletic events)
• SMU Information Line 

What else takes place following an emergency situation?

  • Following every emergency incident at SMU, there is an extensive debriefing process that includes detailed reports and feedback from the Office of Police and Risk Management, other law enforcement agencies and the Office of the President.
  • Feedback from many sources, including students, faculty, staff, parents, SMU building managers and administrators, is taken into careful consideration.
  • All emergency steps, including response time, warnings and other communications and actions, are closely reviewed and needed improvements are outlined.

SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY

What should I do if I see something suspicious?
SMU endorses the national awareness program If You See Something, Say Something ™. The SMU Police Department asks the University community to report anything – or anyone – suspicious. (Factors such as race, ethnicity, national origin or religious affiliation alone are not suspicious.)

Suspicious activities include:
• Someone loitering in parking lots, garages or building hallways
• Someone you don’t recognize attempting to enter restricted areas of a building
• Someone you don’t recognize following you or others into a residence hall
• Someone you don’t recognize taking pictures of or sketching structures
• Unattended, abandoned or unusual-looking vehicles parked for prolonged periods of time in the same location
• Someone asking questions about security procedures
• Someone wearing unseasonably heavy clothing
• Someone posing as a groundskeeper, campus worker or other employee without an official ID badge

Suspicious packages include:
• Unattended backpack, briefcase or luggage left in public or high-traffic areas.
• A package, envelope or device that has an unusual appearance, seems out of place or cannot be readily identified.

To whom should I report something suspicious?
Call SMU Police as quickly as possible. Stay calm and provide information about your location and situation, but stay away from the suspicious person or package. Stay on the phone until Police Dispatch tells you to hang up.

• All emergencies: Dial 911.
• Off-campus phone or cell phone: Dial 214-768-3333.
• Email SMU Police: police@smu.edu.
• Report anonymously: SMU Police Anonymous Tips Line: 214-SMU-2TIP  -or- SMU Silent Witness Program: www.smu.edu/2tip