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Emergency Response Guide

In a life threatening emergency call 911, then call York University Security Services at 416-736-5333, or from your office phone at extension 33333. Exterior and Interior Safety Phones located across campus can also be used to contact Security Services.

See the section below for information on communications during an emergency.

Emergency alerts are issued through several mechanisms:

  • If you hear a Fire Alarm, immediately exit the building using the nearest, safest exit.
  • Some buildings have a PA system that will provide emergency alerts and directions.
  • Strobe lights (WHITE for fire; BLUE for non-fire emergencies) may warn you of emergencies.
  • Some of the digital messaging screens on campus post emergency alerts.
  • Alerts may also be sent out through the York Safety App and/or by email.

Emergency Response Wardens in ORANGE vests and Building Emergency Captains in YELLOW vests can direct you in an emergency.

Security Services, Police, Fire, and Paramedic services may also instruct you on what you need to do.

Call the York University Information Line at 416-736-5600 to obtain updates on major emergencies. Updates are also provided on the Community Safety Department website at

In case of an injury on campus requiring immediate medical attention:

  • Ensure that first aid is provided by trained personnel if possible.
  • Find out where the First Aid Kit and/or Automated External Defibrillator is located in your area.
  • Call 911 and give them the following information:
    • The name of your building.
    • Your address. The Keele campus address is 4700 Keele Street, Toronto. Buildings on the Keele campus also have individual addresses that you should provide if known.
    • The Glendon campus address 2275 Bayview Avenue, Toronto (there are not individual addresses for Glendon campus buildings).
    • Exact location of the ill or injured person.
    • Describe the nature and severity of the medical problem.
    • Your name and telephone number.


  • DO NOT MOVE critically ill or injured person(s) unless it is essential for their safety. Try to make them comfortable.
  • Call Security Services at 416-736-5333, or from your office phone at extension 33333 to let them know you called 911 and the reason for the call.
  • Have someone MEET EMERGENCY PERSONNEL upon arrival.

If you have a disability and require assistance, it is recommended that you self-identify with Student Accessibility Services, your professors or class instructors. We encourage you to discuss your needs for evacuation assistance with your disability counsellor. If you require assistance in planning your evacuation prior to an emergency, please contact Student Accessibility Services or the Office of Emergency Preparedness.

York University has developed an emergency preparedness guide for people with disabilities, available at Student Accessibility Services Office or at:

In circumstances where an individual has not self-identified but has a visible apparent need, community members may ask the individual directly if they require assistance in an emergency.

If you are a visitor in the building, notify the faculty or a manager that you may require assistance during an emergency.

If you are in a life threatening situation — always call 911 first. Call Security Services when safe at 416-736-5333, or from your office phone at extension 33333.

In case of a Fire or upon discovery of a Fire:

  • If you are trained to do so, try to put out a small fire using a suitable fire extinguisher.
  • Activate the nearest fire alarm pull station to alert other occupants.
  • Leave the area immediately and close doors (unlocked) and windows behind you.
  • Evacuate the building via the nearest stairs and exit. See EVACUATION.
  • Call 911 from a safe location.

If you encounter smoke, stay low and crawl if necessary. Smoke rises, so there is less smoke at floor level. Place clothing over your nose and face. Take short breaths through your nose to reduce the amount of smoke you inhale. If there is smoke in your stairwell, take another stairwell. If there is smoke in all stairwells, move to a safe location and call 911.

Everyone is required to exit a building upon hearing a fire alarm. Leave the building and proceed through the nearest and safest emergency exit. If you see someone wearing the fluorescent orange or yellow vest and hat, they are trained Emergency Response Wardens — please follow their instructions and follow them out of the building to the designated assembly point. This is for your safety and the safety of those around you.

Upon hearing a fire alarm:

  • Evacuate the building via the nearest stairs and exit. See EVACUATION

Evacuation is a protective action that may be ordered by emergency officials or Security Services when there is a significant threat posed in a specific building. Causes of an evacuation could include emergencies such as: fire, bomb threat, chemical release, flood, power outage or violent person.

Notification of an Evacuation is typically undertaken by Security Services. Depending upon the circumstances, the fire alarm may be activated if an immediate evacuation is required. You may also be notified by other emergency mass notification systems. See EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS

If you see someone wearing the fluorescent orange or yellow vest and hat, they are part of the trained emergency response team. Follow their instructions and exit the building to the designated assembly point. This is for your safety and the safety of those around you.

  • Be aware of where emergency exits are located in buildings.
  • Never use the elevators during an evacuation.
  • Close doors (unlocked) and windows.
  • In an immediate life threatening situation leave with a minimum of personal affects (keys, purse, coat etc.).
  • Make sure any personal or confidential information is secured.
  • Assist those with special needs.
  • Once out of the building, go to the designated assembly point at least 100 metres away, as directed by the Emergency Response team. This spot should be a reasonable and safe distance from the building.
  • Keep clear of fire routes, hydrants and walkways used for emergency vehicles and personnel.
  • Do not return to an evacuated building unless told to do so by a member of the Emergency Response team.

Should you discover that there is a violent or potentially violent person in your building or area, take the following steps:

  • DO NOT CONFRONT THE PERSON. If safe to do so, remove yourself from the situation and go to a safe place.
  • Call 911 as soon as possible. 911 operators need specific information: be prepared to listen and answer their questions as quickly as possible to the best of your ability. This may include:
    • The University address: 4700 Keele Street, Toronto ON (Keele campus), or 2275 Bayview Avenue, Toronto (Glendon campus).
    • The name of the building, location and floor you are in.
    • The exact location of the suspect.
    • If the suspect has or is believed to have weapons, the description of the suspect, including name (if known), gender, race, height, hair colour, clothing description, what they said, did they indicate a specific target, direction of travel if they have left, and other information the operator requests.
  • Request an ambulance for anyone who is injured.
  • If possible, notify others in the immediate area to leave if possible.

REMEMBER: If you are in a life threatening situation — always call 911 first. Call Security Services afterwards if possible at 416-736-5333, or from your office phone at extension 33333, or by using the Safety Phone if present.

Never assume that an individual wandering through a building is a staff member. Asking “may I help you” can discourage the dishonest without intimidating legitimate visitors.

If you think something looks suspicious, it probably is; call Security Services at 416-736-5333, or from your office phone at extension 33333, and assist them by providing information:

  • Location of the incident
  • Nature of the incident
  • Description of person(s) involved including gender, race, clothing, age
  • Description of property involved if any

What is suspicious behaviour? It is behaviour that seems out of place at a given time or place. Examples of a person exhibiting abnormal behaviour include:

  • Running as though being pursued or pursuing something/someone.
  • Carrying certain property at odd hours or locations (i.e. office machinery, laboratory equipment, locked bicycle, property inside their clothing, etc.).
  • Walking slowly in hallways attempting to open doors.
  • Attempting to hide at the sight of others.
  • Recording or monitoring activities on campus (i.e. cameras, binoculars, near a key facility).
  • Attempting to gain information regarding security measures, building plans, key facilities or staff.
  • Mapping out routes on campus, playing out scenarios, monitoring key facilities, timing traffic lights or traffic flow on campus.

Other preventative measures that you can take:

  • Report broken doors, windows and locks.
  • Store, lock and inventory your department’s keys, access cards, uniforms and vehicles.
  • Shred or destroy all documents that contain sensitive personal or organizational information that is not needed.
  • Store and lock personal items such as wallets, purses, and identification when not in use.

Severe storms can occur at any time of year and affect the campus. Thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail, blizzards, ice storms, high winds and heavy rain can develop quickly and threaten life and property. In the event of a weather emergency, listen to the local radio or television stations for severe weather warnings and advice prior to commuting to campus.

York Security Services continuously monitors weather conditions and the latest forecasts. If you are on campus you will be notified of a weather emergency or a potential weather emergency through a variety of methods: see EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS. The media may also provide you with notification.

In the event of a thunderstorm:

  • Stay away from items that conduct electricity, such as telephones, appliances, sinks and metal pipes.
  • If you are outdoors, take shelter immediately, preferably in a building but, failing this, in a depressed area such as a ditch or culvert. Never wait it out under a tree.

In the event of a tornado, take shelter immediately:

  • Go to the lowest level of a sturdy building.
  • Do not go to your parked car.
  • Avoid wide-span buildings, such as auditoriums.
  • Seek shelter in small windowless rooms such as washrooms, or stairwells.
  • Stay away from elevators, doors and windows. Flying glass is extremely dangerous.
  • If you are caught outdoors and no shelter is available, lie flat in a ditch, ravine or other low-lying area, and shield your head with your arms.

In the event of a blizzard or ice storm:

  • If you go outside, dress for the weather.
  • Pay attention to branches or wires that could break due to the weight of any ice or heavy snow.
  • Never touch power lines. During an ice storm, a hanging power line could be charged (live) and you would run the risk of electrocution. Remember also that ice, branches or power lines can continue to break and fall for several hours after the storm has passed.
  • Freezing rain can make roads and sidewalks extremely slippery. Use caution when walking or driving.

If your building has been impacted by an explosion, you must evacuate the building immediately. See EVACUATION.

If you are trapped in the building, remain calm and call 911:

  • Assess your personal health (injuries, severity, etc.).
  • Try to make noise or bang on an object to signal your location.
  • Follow the directions of emergency responders.

To protect yourself from earthquakes, take immediate shelter under tables, desks or other objects that will offer protection against flying glass and debris. Keep away from skylights and large overhead light fixtures. Protect your face and head with your arms. If possible, keep away from windows to avoid flying glass.

  • If you need assistance, call 911 and then Security Services at 416-736-5333, or from your office phone at extension 33333.
  • Do not attempt to leave the building until shaking has stopped. If possible, evacuate the building.
  • Help those who need first aid.
  • Walk out of the building. DO NOT RUN. Watch for falling debris or electrical wires as you exit.
  • Go directly to your designated emergency assembly point.
  • Wait for further instructions.

Shelter-in-place is ordered when it is safer to remain inside than to go outside. This could be due to a fire or environmental hazard outside.

Notification of a shelter-in-place is typically undertaken by Security Services. See EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS for other ways you may be notified. The media may also provide you with a notification.

If instructed to shelter-in-place:

  • Close and lock all windows and exterior doors. Turn off all fans, vents, and heating and air conditioning systems by calling the Work Control Centre at Ext. 22401.
  • If possible, take refuge in a small, interior room, with no or few windows. In case of a chemical threat an above ground location is preferable, as chemicals heavier than air may seep into the basement even with the windows closed.
  • Although most shelter-in-place orders usually last only a few hours, take any emergency kits with you to have a supply of food, bottled water, first aid supplies and medications on hand.
  • Have a working radio available so you can listen to the media to know when it is safe to come out or if you will need to evacuate the area.
  • Try to have a hard-wired telephone inside the room in which you are seeking shelter. This will provide a backup to any cellular equipment you may have.
  • Avoid using the telephone unless you are reporting an emergency or it is absolutely necessary. Emergency responders and those who need immediate emergency assistance will need all available lines.
  • Do not leave the building or go outside until advised that it is safe by the Emergency Response team.

You can still move around inside the building and continue your normal activities. If you see someone outside your building invite them to come inside until the shelter-in-place order is lifted for their safety.

Power interruptions can occur for a variety of reasons and may last from minutes to days. In the event of a power failure during normal working hours:

  • Call Work Control Centre at Ext. 22401. After normal working hours contact the Security Services non-emergency number at 416-650-8000, or from your office phone at extension 58000. If life safety is at risk due to the outage, call 416-736-5333, or from your office phone at extension 33333 with the following information
    • Room and floor number where power failure has occurred.
    • Details of the power failure.
    • Your name and telephone number.
  • Wait for instructions and updates.
  • If you must evacuate, proceed cautiously to the nearest clear exit. See EVACUATION.
  • If requested, accompany and assist persons with disabilities who may need assistance.
  • Emergency lighting in stairwells and throughout the building will should remain on until the problem is resolved, however mini flashlights can be kept in purses, jacket pockets and desks.
  • Emergency Response Wardens on your floor will also have flashlights.
  • If you are in an unlit area, proceed cautiously to an area that has emergency lights.
  • Provide assistance to others in your immediate area that may be unfamiliar with the space.
  • If you are stuck in an elevator, use the emergency telephone to alert York Security Services that you are trapped inside an elevator and the location of the elevator.

Natural gas leaks may occur and have the potential to cause an explosion. Natural gas is lighter than air and rises. An odorant that smells like rotten eggs is added to natural gas to make even the smallest leak easy to smell. If you notice the smell of rotten eggs indoors or out, here’s what you need to know.

If you smell gas indoors or outdoors:

  • Cease all operations.
  • Open doors and windows to let the gas out and fresh air in.
  • Leave the area immediately. See EVACUATION.
  • Immediately notify your manager, instructor or resident life coordinator and Security Services at 416-736-5333, or from your office phone at extension 33333.
  • Security Services will investigate the situation immediately and will take any action required, including notifying facilities, the appropriate utility and Emergency Responders as needed.


  • DO NOT USE your telephone or cellular phone where the smell is present.
  • DO NOT USE electrical equipment or switch the lights on or off. Electrical arcing can cause an explosion.
  • DO NOT START vehicles near the gas leak.
  • DO NOT USE lighters or matches.

In the event of a flood on campus:

  • DO NOT attempt to shut off electricity if any water is present. Water and live electrical wires can be lethal.
  • DO NOT use flooded appliances or electrical outlets until they have been checked by the local power authority.
  • If the flood is outside, avoid the flooded area as the ground below may be unsettled and could cave in.
  • Never cross a flooded area. If you are on foot, fast water could sweep you away.
  • If you are in a car, do not drive through flood waters. The water could be deeper that it looks.

Hazardous materials are chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear materials. In the event of a spill on campus and you are trained in laboratory response:

  • Follow existing protocols and operating procedures in place.
  • Determine the hazard before any attempt is made to clean it up.
  • Only attempt to clean up low risk spills and then only small quantities.
  • Control the source of a low risk spill by dyking or absorbing.
  • Prevent chemicals from entering drains, if possible.
  • If in doubt, do not attempt to clean up. Leave and isolate the affected area.
  • Isolate the affected area.
  • If it is a high risk spill, call 911 immediately providing the University address: 4700 Keele Street, Toronto (Keele campus) or 2275 Bayview Avenue, Toronto (Glendon campus), the building name and address if known, and the HAZMAT spill specifications from the MSDS if available and evacuate the building. See EVACUATION.
  • Call Security Services at 416-736-5333, or from your office phone at extension 33333.
  • Provide the following information to emergency responders:
    • The location, substance involved and MSDS if available, whether it is a solid, liquid or gas, quantity spilled, and your name.
    • Indicate if anyone has been exposed to the substance.
    • Whether the substance is contained.
    • Whether there are any hazard material placards on the containers.
  • Wait in a safe area for the response team.
  • DO NOT allow unauthorized personnel to enter the contaminated area.

Demonstrations are permitted on campus unless one or more of the following conditions exist:

  • Interference with the normal operations of the University.
  • Blocking of access to offices, buildings, or other University facilities.
  • Threat of physical harm to persons or damage to University facilities or property.

If any of these conditions exist, notify Security Services at 416-736-5333, or from your office phone at extension 33333. Security Services will contact the appropriate authorities if required.

A lockdown is used to protect the community in the event of a violent or potentially violent situation on campus. You may be instructed to lockdown when there is an armed individual posing an immediate threat to the safety and well-being of the community. The individual may possess a gun, knife, explosive or other weapon.

Notification of a lockdown is typically undertaken by York University Security Services. You may also be notified by your Building Emergency Captain, Emergency Response Warden, by telephone, email or through activation of the LCD screens.

If you can leave a building quickly and safely, then leave! If you can’t:

  • Take shelter in the nearest secured place (e.g. classroom or office).
  • Close doors. Lock doors if possible. Barricade the doors.
  • If the lights in the room can be turned off — turn them off; turn off computers, silence cell phones, radios, or any device that may indicate the room is occupied.
  • Close blinds or curtains on windows. Stay away from doors and try to keep out of the line of sight of windows.
  • Sit or lie on the floor or crouch behind or under desks. Be as invisible as possible.
  • Do not respond to anyone at the door. Stay in your secured area until the police enter the room to let you out using the master key. Follow police instructions on how to leave the area.
  • If you are directed to leave your secured area by police, do so as quickly and quietly as possible and follow their specific directions. Assist those who may require help moving.
  • AVOID USING CELL PHONES DURING A LOCKDOWN. They may interfere with emergency communications. Police, fire and ambulance radio systems can be negatively impacted by high cell phone volume. The only exception to this is in the event of a medical emergency in your immediate area, or if you have information specific to the current threat.

If you are outside the building during a lockdown:

  • Move as far away as possible from the building under lockdown.
  • Await further direction from Police or Security Services.
  • Otherwise, go to a safe area of campus away from the scene.
  • Information updates will be provided by police and University officials as soon as possible and safe to do so.
  • Do not call Security Services for an update.

Robbery is the unlawful taking of property from someone by the use of violence or the threat of violence. Theft of property should not be confused with robbery. In the event of a robbery on campus follow these steps.

Obey the robber:

  • Don’t fight. Don’t use weapons. Your personal safety is more important than any property.
  • Do exactly as the robber asks. Hand over any property asked for. Don’t delay or argue. The robber may be more frightened than you.
  • Do not make any sudden moves. Tell the robber every move you are about to make before you do it.
  • Do not activate any alarms or use the telephone until after the robber has left the area.
  • Don’t block any escape routes.

Remain cool and calm:

  • Listen carefully to what the robber says.
  • If possible avoid any eye contact.
  • Observe what the robber looks like and develop a mental picture so that an accurate description can be given to the police.

After the robber has left:

  • If you are able to do so, lock the doors immediately after the robber has left and call Toronto Police at 911 and then Security Services at 416-736-5333, or from your office phone at extension 33333.
  • Don't chase or follow the robber. Don’t be a hero. You could be mistaken for the robber in a pursuit by police.
  • Don’t touch a hold-up note or anything else the robber may have touched. Protect these areas for police examination.
  • Write down the robber’s description in detail as soon as is safely possible including gender, race, height, weight, build, eye and hair color, scars or tattoos, jewelry, approximate age, and clothing. If possible, note in which direction the suspect fled. Write down the description of any escape vehicle or license plate.
  • Ask witnesses to stay until officers' arrival. If unable to do so, write down their names, and phone numbers.
  • Do not discuss descriptions with other witnesses.

Robbery prevention tips:

  • Don’t count cash where the public can see you.
  • If you work at a public counter, make frequent deposits so that there are never large amounts of money in your cash drawer. Be suspicious about people asking about your cash handling system, how much money you collect, or when you transfer the money from the drawer. Never answer questions such as these. Get a description of the person and notify your supervisor immediately.

A Disruptive person is one whose behaviour significantly interferes with the learning and working environment of another at York University.  This may include exhibiting concerning, challenging or higher-risk behaviours.

A Distressed person is one whose behaviour is indicative of being in emotional distress although they may also be exhibiting concerning and challenging physical behaviours.

Harassment involves conduct that causes fear for personal safety or the safety of those known to you.  Harassment is often associated with behaviours including (non-exhaustive):  uttering threats, causing damage or restricting access to personal property, persistent following, intimidation, ‘stalking’ and ‘cyber bullying’.  Whether occurrences are experienced in-person, over the telephone, via letter or virtually (e.g. online social media platforms or through text messaging), all such acts are criminal offenses.  Swift reporting by you will facilitate a thorough investigation by York Security Services and/or Toronto Police.

Consultation with experts from the Community Safety Department and participating in campus training or workshops can further empower you to respond to such challenging encounters.  (Please see safety for further information.)

When a person becomes verbally abusive, threatens or harasses you:

  • Tell the individual that their behaviour is unacceptable and that it must stop immediately.
  • If the negative interaction continues or at any point in an encounter where you feel you or others involved are at imminent risk, withdraw from the interaction, implementing an ACTion Plan©:

An ACTion Plan© approach:

  • Put Distance (physically, mentally/emotionally) between yourself and the aggressor.

Do not crowd the aggressor, prevent them from leaving or re-engage in any kind of conversation. Ensure others respect the volatility of the space/person as well.

  • Make Observations about the person and interaction. Be prepared to share what you know about this person including their identity, physical description and if known, their perceived ‘reasons’ for escalating or engaging you.  Save any related documentation, postings, texts, screenshots or recordings for review by police.
  • Report the interaction immediately to 911 or York Security at 416-736-5333, or from your office phone at extension 33333. If you are unable to make this call, get someone else to call for you, deploy a “code” word or use a panic alarm to report the incident.

If the person leaves before Safety Services arrive, it is still important to report and document the interaction fully. Doing this also allows appropriate referral partners to provide continuity of care.

If you receive a bomb threat:

  • Do not panic and stay calm.
  • Immediately record the callers exact words.
  • Immediately notify Security Services at 416-736-5333, or from your office phone at extension 33333.
  • Anyone receiving a bomb threat over the telephone should ask the caller:
Where is the bomb?When is the bomb going to explode?
What kind of bomb is it?What will cause the bomb to explode?
What does the bomb look like?Why did you place the bomb?
What is your name?What is your address?

Keep talking to the caller as long as you can and record the following information:






CalmRapidCryingNasalDeep BreathingAccent
AngrySoftNormalStutterRaggedCracking Voice
ExcitedLoudDistinctLispClearing ThroatDisguised

If the voice is familiar, who did it sound like?


Street noisesMotorStaticAnimal noises
House noisesMusicLocalClear
VoicesOffice noisesLong distanceRestaurant/Kitchen
PA systemFactory machineryBoothShopping Mall


Well spokenIrrationalTapedMessage Read by Threat Maker

Some typical characteristics that should trigger suspicion include parcels that:

  • Are unexpected or from someone unfamiliar to you.
  • Are outdated or addressed to someone no longer with your department or the University (e.g. improper title).
  • Have excessive postage, handwritten or poorly typed.
  • Bear no return address, or one that can't be verified as legitimate.
  • Are of unusual weight, disproportionate to its size, or is lopsided.
  • Are marked with restrictive endorsements, such as “Personal” or “Confidential”.
  • Exhibit protruding wires, strange odours, stains, or powders.
  • Indicate a city, province or country in the postmark that doesn't match the return address.
  • Have excessive string or tape to hold together.

Also keep an eye out for suspicious vehicles that may have the following characteristics:

  • Low riding vehicles, especially with disproportionate weight towards the back of the vehicle.
  • Vehicles left running with no driver.
  • Vehicles parked haphazardly in apparent effort to hurriedly ditch, instead of properly parked.

If you receive a suspicious parcel/mail:

  • DO NOT TOUCH the package as this could destroy fingerprints.
  • IMMEDIATELY notify York University Security Services from a landline telephone at 416-736-5333, or from your office phone at extension 33333 and provide the following information:
    • The department name and floor number
    • Details of the suspicious package
    • Your name and telephone number
  • Notify your supervisor or instructor.
  • DO NOT USE cell phones or two-way radios near the package.
  • Security Services will secure the area perimeter and determine the appropriate response.
  • Notify your supervisor.
  • Security Services will contact the Health, Safety & Employee Well-Being Department and Toronto Police Services for threat assessment and response.
  • Do not attempt to clean up any powder that may have spilled.
  • Keep staff out the area in which the parcel is contained.
  • Isolate anyone who has been exposed directly to or touched the parcel/mail or powder.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Ensure that all persons who have touched the letter wash their hands with soap and water only.
  • List all persons who have touched the letter or package including their contact information and provide the list to the investigating agency.
  • Remove contaminated clothing as soon as possible and place in a plastic bag, or other sealed container and have available for the Police, should they request.
  • Shower with soap and water.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
  • If the mail or parcel contains other types of hazardous materials, see HAZARDOUS MATERIALS.

How to handle mail in your area that will enhance safety:

  • Do not leave mail unattended.
  • Secure mail whenever possible.
  • Be alert to any suspicious activity or persons who are in the vicinity of mail.
  • Report suspicious activity immediately to Security Services at 416-736-5333, or from your office phone at extension 33333.