Carnegie Mellon University

Personal Emergency Plan

Although we are concerned for everyone’s safety while you are here at CMU, we can’t forget that everyone has a need for a personal emergency plan for those times when something unexpected happens at home or while traveling.   What do you do if the power is off for several days?  Where should you go if you need to leave your home because of an emergency?  What supplies should you keep on hand to help you through those times when some kind of emergency disrupts your normal routine?  

The information found in this section will aid you in setting up a plan for you and your family.

  • Flashlight with extra batteries.
  • Battery-powered radio. A weather radio is best. Have extra batteries.
  • Keep at least one gallon of water available per person per day (3 days), or more if you are on medication that requires water or that may increase thirst.
  • While it is unlikely that you would be trapped in one place for an extended period of time, it is advisable to have enough non-perishable food to sustain you for at least three days (three meals per day). Even if you don’t need the food, you will feel better psychologically knowing it is there. Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking, and little or no water. The following items are suggested:
    • Ready-to-eat canned meals, meats, fruits, and vegetables.
    • Canned juices.
    • High-energy foods (granola bars, energy bars, etc.)
  • Medications
    • Include usual non-prescription medications that you take, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, etc.
    • If you use prescription medications, keep at least a three-day supply on hand.
  • First Aid Supplies

More Information can be found at the American Red Cross web site (

  • Maintain perspective.  Don’t ignore warnings, but don’t let them cause you to panic.  The actual likelihood of a terrorist incident at Carnegie Mellon is much lower than the likelihood of a fire or chemical spill in one of our labs.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.  Don’t be afraid to leave if you are uncomfortable with a situation.
  • Take precautions when traveling. Watch for suspicious behavior, unattended packages, or strange devices, and report them to police. Do not leave luggage unattended, and don’t accept packages from strangers.
  • Wherever you are, whether at work or traveling, know where the emergency exits are located.  Think about how you will get out in an emergency, especially if you are in a place you’ve never been before.
  • Be prepared to do without services we all have come to take for granted:  electricity, water, telephones, gasoline pumps, heat, ATM machines, etc.  Develop an alternate plan for how you will cope without these services.
  • Always respond to official announcements, and follow the instructions you will be given.
  • Do not touch suspicious mail or packages.  Report them immediately.  Clear the area, and do not stand near windows or other breakable items if there appears to be a possibility of an explosion.
  • If you become trapped in debris, do not light a match.  Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or piece of clothing to aid breathing.  Rhythmically tap on a pipe or wall to alert rescuers to your location.
  • If you feel the need to talk to someone, even before an emergency strikes, remember that Carnegie Mellon has an active counseling program.  Faculty and staff can call the LifeWorks Employee Assistance Program at 1-888-267-8126 for confidential help.  Students can receive the same type of assistance by contacting the Student Services Response Team at 268-2922.

Complete this information for your building. Keep it handy for quick reference in an emergency.

Building Name



Room Number

Floor Marshal(s)

Phone Number(s)

Emergency Waiting Area

Emergency Waiting Area

Nearest AED

Location of emergency supplies

Evacuation Assembly Area (outside)

Alternate Evacuation Assembly Area (outside)

Evacuation Assembly Area (other building)

Alternate Evacuation Assembly Area (other building)

Nearest Fire Alarm Pull Station

Nearest Fire Extinguisher

Nearest Eyewash (if applicable)

Nearest Safety Shower (if applicable)

Shelter in Place Locations

Home Emergency Plan

  • Talk to officials at your children’s schools so you know ahead of time what their policies are with respect to dismissal during emergencies.
  • Develop a disaster plan for your home. 
  • Identify meeting places in case family members become separated.
  • If you are required to evacuate, use only one vehicle to reduce traffic congestion, keep the family together and follow designated routes.
  • Develop an emergency telephone list and be sure every family member has a copy. 
  • Be sure all family members know where all utility shutoffs are in your home, and how to operate them.
  • Set up a procedure to help family members or neighbors who may need assistance
  • Make arrangements ahead of time for pets (they may not be permitted in emergency shelters)
  • If you are required to evacuate, use only one vehicle, to reduce traffic congestion and to keep the family together.  Follow designated routes.
  • Review insurance policies before an emergency develops and update as necessary.
  • Put together an emergency kit.  Keep everything together so it can be quickly gathered and thrown into your car if you have to evacuate. Find recommended emergency kit contents below.
  • Talk honestly with your children.  Keep them informed without raising undue concerns.  Watch for distress signs and give them reassurance.  Try to keep them from seeing graphic depictions of the emergency on television, especially repeat showings.  Children may not realize that the disaster is not really occurring again with each viewing.

An emergency kit should include the following:

  • 1 gal water/person/day for 3 days
  • Food for same period (if using canned goods, include MANUAL can opener)
  • 1st Aid Kit, extra prescription medicines, glasses, contact lenses
  • Battery operated radio with extra batteries
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Matches in waterproof container
  • Duct tape, scissors, plastic sheeting
  • Mess kits or paper plates, cups, utensils
  • Small fire extinguisher
  • Signal flares, whistle
  • Extra car and house keys
  • Sanitary items (toilet paper, towelettes, soap, disinfectant, etc.)
  • Personal ID, cash, traveler’s checks, credit or debit card.
    • Keep in mind that ATM machines, credit card verification, etc. may not be available in an emergency, particularly if electrical power is compromised.
  • Copies of important papers (will, insurance policies, passport, birth certificates, bank account numbers, powers of attorney, etc.) in a waterproof container.
  • Emergency contact list, with phone numbers.
  • Medications, including non-prescription medications that you take, such as pain relievers, stomach remedies, etc.
    • If you use prescription medications, keep at least a three-day supply on hand.\
  • Blankets, sleeping bags, pillows, extra clothing
  • Road maps
  • Toys and games to keep children occupied, as well as baby food and diapers, if necessary
  • Food and water for pets, for emergencies that require you to remain away from your home