Shelter in Place

Welcome to DU’s Shelter in Place page. Most likely, you are here because you received an alert from the University, indicating that the campus is in Shelter in Place mode, due to a known nearby threat (which may include a weather threat, such as tornado). This page is intended to provide additional information beyond the original message received. 

Remain calm and remain where you are. Shelter in Place indicates that the threat is outside of the campus buildings or there is impending harmful weather. You should seek shelter inside with doors and windows locked. Do not leave your safe area until you receive an “All Clear” from DU.  



The University will continue to monitor conditions. Further updates will be provided here as they become available.

<<Section to Come>>

  • For Weather
    • Shelter in place is the safety term used to notify the community of a weather-related emergency–typically a tornado or severe storm including hail. The University of Denver’s shelter in place procedures are as follows: 

      • Stop classes or other operations in the building. 

      • If there are visitors in the building, provide for their safety by asking them to stay--not leave. When public safety officials provide directions to shelter in place, they want everyone to take those steps immediately, where they are. 

      • Tornado sirens are intended to notify those outdoors to make their way inside. 

      • Once inside, make your way to a room or area without exterior glass. 

      • Remain calm and await further instructions, once the threat has passed, Campus Safety will send the notification. 

    • If out in the open: 

      • Do not wait out the storm in your car, attempt to outrun the tornado by driving perpendicular to its path. 

      • Move away from the path of the tornado. 

      • Seek shelter in a sturdy building. 

      • If no buildings are available, lie face down in the nearest depression, ditch, ravine, or culvert; cover your head with your hands and stay there until the storm has passed. 

  • For Hazardous Materials
    • In some instances, it may be safer to “shelter in place” (i.e. remain indoors) to avoid the release of hazardous materials. In this case, it may be necessary to shelter in place following the intentional or accidental release of a chemical, biological, or biological contaminants into the environment. The University of Denver’s shelter in place procedures are as follows: 

      • Close and lock all doors leading into your office area. 

      • Alert others in your office of the order to Shelter in Place. 

      • Close all exterior windows. 

      • Gather all personnel into a central location. Choose a room with none or few windows or vents. 

      • Do not use the telephone for non-essential purposes (such as contacting the media) 

      • Do not investigate unusual or suspicious noises outside your office area. 

      • Remain until the “all clear” alert is given. 

  • For Threatening Person
    • In the event there is a threatening person near campus, Campus Safety may initiate Shelter in Place to protect campus occupants in the event the threatening person makes their way onto campus. Since the threat is outside campus, it is generally safe to move about campus (indoors) as you would normally. However, it is important to: 
      • Continue to notice your surroundings at a heightened level – what do you see and hear? If you suspect danger, get to a room or office, lock the door, and close windows. If the door does not lock, try to use furniture to block the door or wedge items under the door. If in a restroom, stand on the toilet, lock the stall, and remain quiet. 

      • Remain indoors and keep doors and windows locked. 

      • Remember that in Shelter in Place mode, no one should be allowed into a building, and no one should leave. Staying indoors is the safest option during Shelter in Place.  

Shelter in Place is Not a Lockdown

Shelter in Place and Lockdown are very different. A Shelter in Place is called when the threat is far enough away from campus for building occupants to ensure safety indoors. Those outside should seek shelter inside a locked building. In Shelter in Place, individuals may be able to move around the facility – even from room to room.  

A Lockdown is called when the threat is close (most likely on campus) and safety cannot be assured, even when inside a locked building. In a Lockdown, it is necessary to seek shelter in a locked interior room, closet, or other enclosed space for personal protection; run – far away from campus, as quickly as possible; or fight back against an attacker.  

While movement is allowed during Shelter in Place, keep in mind that if the threat moves closer to campus or on campus, a Lockdown may be called, and it may be necessary to run, hide, or fight. If this happens, it is important to familiarize yourself with your options – hiding in a safe, locked location; running to an off-campus location to call 911; or fighting against an attacker if that becomes your only option. The Lockdown web page can provide additional information. 

What You Can Do to Prepare

There are a variety of steps you can take now to prepare for a Lockdown situation:  

  • Make sure you haven’t opted out of emergency text messages. See and click the sign-up button on the right side of the page.  

  • Make sure you are following the University and Campus Safety’s official Twitter and Facebook pages.  

  • If you commute, familiarize yourself with bus routes and other alternative transportation. Following Shelter in Place, it is possible access to vehicles or transportation will be restricted.  

  • If you are frequently on campus, familiarize yourself with exits, alternate routes, and items that could be used nearby to fight against an attacker if the Shelter in Place becomes a Lockdown. 

  • If you are a member of the faculty, give guidance to your students. How will you and your students respond in a Shelter in Place event? How might students be able to prepare, given your unique classroom environment?  

  • If you are responsible for a university service, how will you be involved in the campus response? What training do you need? Do you have a backup who knows everything you know about your role in a Shelter in Place event?  

  • If you are responsible for a university event, how will you handle Shelter in Place, emergency cancelations, refunds and rescheduling?