Tips For Responding to Emergencies

Staying in the Know
  • Check www.columbia.edu and the Alerts and Announcements page on this site regularly.
  • Call the Columbia main switchboard at (212) 851-1754 to hear recorded updates.
  • Tune to local television and news radio for the most recent updates about any mass illnesses or weather situations and where to seek help.
  • Check your Columbia email regularly.
  • Sign up for the Emergency Text Message System.
  • If you feel ill during an emergency, contact your healthcare provider:
    • Students on the Morningside campus: (212) 854-2284
    • Students at CUMC: (212) 305-340
    • Faculty & Staff: Contact your personal healthcare provider.
  • During times of widespread danger, emergency phone numbers may be overwhelmed. Only call police or Public Safety if you are in immediate danger.
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Understand the Facts About Ebola

Ebola is a serious virus; however, it's important to know that it is far less contagious than many other organisms, like measles and influenza. Although a case in the city has been confirmed, the risk to people in New York City and at Columbia remains extremely low. The patient is being treated while following all appropriate and necessary protocols.

The Ebola Preparedness Working Group, a sub-committee of the Emergency Management Operations Team, recognizes that many members of the Columbia community have questions and concerns. See our answers to several common questions.

Note: Clinical personnel, including faculty and staff at Columbia University Medical Center, should refer to the ColumbiaDoctors Intranet (https://secure.cumc.columbia.edu/columbiadoctors/ebola.html) or the NewYork-Presbyterian Infonet (http://infonet.nyp.org/EPI/Pages/EID.aspx) for detailed information about protocols, precautions, training and resources that apply to them.

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Keeping Warm - Tips from NYC OEM

New York's Office of Emergency Management recommends the following on cold winter days:

  • Dress warmly with layers and stay dry
  • Wear a hat, scarf and a water-repellent coat
  • Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extremely cold air
  • Stretch before you do strenuous activity and drink plenty of water
  • Avoid overexertion while shoveling snow

— from "Ready New York: Preparing for Emergencies in New York City."

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Weather Emergency
  • Stay indoors unless emergency personnel direct you otherwise.
  • Monitor local TV, radio, email and the Columbia homepage.
  • In high wind situations, move to lowest hallway/floor without windows.
  • Await further instructions from emergency personnel. 
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Earthquake

Indoors:

  • Get under sturdy desk or table and HOLD ON.
  • Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, loadbearing doorway.
  • Stay away from glass, windows, light fixtures or anything else that could fall and injure you.
  • Stay inside until shaking stops and it is safe to go outside.
  • Do not use elevators.


Outdoors:

  • Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
  • Stay there until shaking stops.
  • If in moving vehicle, stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in vehicle.
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Medical Emergency
  • If you are on campus, call Public Safety at 212-854-5555. If off campus, call 911. Give name, exact location and the nature of the condition.
  • If trained, provide appropriate first aid.
  • Stay with individual(s) until medical assistance arrives.
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Active Shooter

If event is outdoors:

  • Seek cover indoors.
  • Call Public Safety at 212-854-5555. Give name, exact location and the nature of the condition.

If event is indoors:

  • Lock and barricade doors and windows and close blinds.
  • Do not stand by windows or doors.
  • Call Public Safety at 212-854-5555. Give name, exact location inside the building and the nature of the condition.
  • Silence cell phones and turn off radios/computer monitors.
  • Keep out of sight and take adequate cover.
  • Wait until emergency

For more information, please see Be Prepared: Active Shooter Incident guidelines.

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Hazmat Spill - Hazardous Substance

Indoors

  • Call Public Safety at 212-854-5555. Give name, exact location inside the building and the nature of the condition.
  • Alert people in immediate area and evacuate.
  • Confine the hazard by closing doors as you leave.
  • Do not reoccupy space until authorized by emergency responders or public safety personnel.

Outdoors

  • Call Public Safety at 212-854-5555. Give name, exact location and the nature of the condition.
  • Close all doors and windows.
  • Await further instructions from emergency responders.
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Suspicious Object
  • Do not disturb or move the object.
  • Warn others to leave the area and secure the area, if possible.
  • Retreat to a safe distance—at least 300 feet.
  • Do not use cellular phone or other electronic devices while in the immediate area of the object.
  • Call Public Safety at 212-854-5555. Give name, exact location inside the building and the nature of the condition.
  • Do not reoccupy space until authorized by emergency responders or public safety personnel.
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Fire Emergency (Evacuate)

Evacuation Procedures

  • If the building fire alarm is activated, immediately evacuate the building.
  • Proceed to the nearest exit (NEVER use the elevator), closing doors as you exit.
  • Continue down the stairs and exit the building.
  • Do not re-enter building until authorized by emergency responders or Public Safety personnel.


If unable to evacuate:

  • Call Public Safety at 212-854-5555. Give name, exact location inside the building and the nature of the condition.
  • Close door and seal cracks to prevent smoke from entering.
  • If possible, open window at top and bottom; never break the window, as if copious smoke enters the window you should be ready to close it again.
  • If the air at the window is clear, stay at window breathing the fresh air as it enters.
  • Signal for help so that emergency responders can see your location.
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