There are two different types of scenarios during which we would issue a shelter-in-place command: tornado warning / severe weather and environmental hazards. “Shelter-in-place” means to make a shelter out of the indoor place you are currently located or to seek a safe indoor place if you are outside.

Tornado Warning or Severe Weather

A tornado warning is issued for specific areas when a tornado has actually been sited or has been indicated on Doppler radar.  University authorities will send an ECU Alert when a tornado warning is issued for one or all campuses / complexes.

  • Seek shelter immediately.
  • Alert others to watch for severe weather.
  • If you have personnel working outside or in modular units, advise them to take shelter now.
  • Should a tornado threaten our campus, seek shelter in the lowest level of your building.
  • Go to an inner hallway, smaller inner room, or closet. Keep away from windows and exterior doors.
  • Remain sheltered until the weather improves or you receive an ECU Alert stating “All Clear.”
  • If outside, seek shelter in a sturdy building and follow the instructions above.
  • Continue to monitor your email, radio, television and ECU Alert messages at

Review the Severe Weather Safety page for more information.

Environmental Hazard

Chemical, biological, or radiological contaminants may be released accidentally or intentionally into the outdoor environment. It is important that you follow instructions from University authorities and know what to do if they advise you to shelter-in-place.

  • If outside, seek shelter in the nearest secure building.
  • Stop classes or work, or close business operations.
  • Allow people outside to enter.
  • If there are others in the building, provide for their safety by asking them to stay – not to leave.
  • Close all windows, exterior doors, and any other openings to the outside.
  • Shut down ventilation fans and air conditioners if possible.
  • If you are told there is danger of explosion, close the window shades, blinds, or curtains.
  • Select interior room(s) above the ground floor, with the fewest windows or vents.
    • Avoid overcrowding by selecting several rooms if necessary.
  • Bring everyone into the room(s). Shut and, if possible, lock the door(s).
  • Keep listening to the radio, television or check the ECU Alert homepage until you are told all is safe or you are told to evacuate.
    • University and local officials may call for evacuation in specific areas at greatest risk in your community