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resident guide

Prepare for an emergency

Students walking next to Maple Hall

How HFS responds to emergencies

Activated in emergencies, HFS’ Unit Response Center provides coordinated and integrated action and communication when our ability to provide routine services is disrupted. We utilize procedures and protocols put in place by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and work in concert with the UW’s emergency management staff and structure.

HFS leadership and designated management staff are required to complete basic FEMA emergency management training, and the Residential Life team (Resident Directors and RAs) are all well drilled in what to do during emergencies through training and practicing a simulated emergency response every year.

As part of our emergency preparedness efforts, we make sure when you originally move-in with us that you have one of those stylish red backpacks full of emergency supplies for your room.

We mobilize when needed

Putting our response plans into motion doesn’t only happen during what you’d consider to be disasters or big emergencies. When the power or water service goes out, when there are disruptive events on campus, or when issues localized to a single residential building or dining venue occur, we mobilize to ensure we can still provide basic service.

That’s what took place just before autumn quarter when new radiator valves for Hansee Hall's heating system turned out to be faulty and started leaking. HFS Facilities Services swung into action, turned off the system, cleaned up the leaks and put in fans and dehumidifiers to dry things out. Working with UW Facilities, we developed a plan to replace the faulty valves and got the system back up and running as quickly as possible.

Your safety is important to us

It doesn’t have to be the big earthquake for HFS to mobilize. Your safety is of paramount importance to us, as well as your ability to pursue your studies without interruption. Our goal of preparedness shows we proudly take that commitment seriously.

Preparing for an emergency is everyone’s responsibility. For additional information about campus-wide emergency response to earthquakes, severe storms, fires, hazardous materials incidents, terrorism and extreme heat, visit UW Emergency Management.

Your emergency kit

Emergency kits are provided to students moving into an apartment or residence hall for the first time. Each kit contains supplies for a 72-hour period. Become familiar with the items in your kit and supplement for any particular needs you have.

Students are expected to bring the kit back with them following any break in residence and to replace any used or lost items at their own expense. Replacement kits may be purchased at campus express markets.

Family housing residents are highly encouraged to put together and maintain an emergency kit with enough supplies to accommodate the needs of their family for 72 hours.

Medical emergency

There are nine Automatic External Defibrillators and nine STOP THE BLEED Kits installed throughout our facilities: Alder Hall, Elm Hall, Lander Hall, Madrona Hall, Maple Hall, McCarty Hall, Oak Hall, Terry Hall and Willow Hall.  

Automatic External Defibrillators, also known as AEDs, are used to help people experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. An AED can analyze the heart's rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electrical shock, or defibrillation, to help the heart start beating again. AEDs are designed to administer shocks only if an abnormal rhythm is detected and they provide audible, step-by-step instructions for use. 

A STOP THE BLEED Kit® is a bleeding control kit that contains items to control serious bleeding and prevent further blood loss for a person with a traumatic injury. Each kit has one STOP THE BLEED® booklet with instructions on how to use it. 

For most people who encounter a person experiencing a medical emergency, the only expectation is to call 911 – you are not required to use an AED or STOP THE BLEED Kit if you are not comfortable doing so. 

After calling 911, you should also contact your RA/CA or find the closest HFS staff member to help. 

Medical emergencies on campus can sometimes happen during parties and other situations that may make you hesitant to call 911 because you’re worried about being referred for a student conduct violation. Please note that the university’s amnesty policy applies in many such situations, and you should not avoid calling emergency services because you are worried about a conduct violation. 

Interested in learning to administer CPR, First Aid, and use AEDs? Learn more about the CPR/AED course offered at UW.


Fire safety

Fire safety is of the utmost importance in community living. To prevent fires, be mindful of what is prohibited in our facilities, and always watch your food when cooking in your apartment.

Evacuation procedures

On the back of all room or main apartment doors you will find the evacuation route for your unit. Each building has an evacuation assembly point. If the building alarm sounds, exit immediately.

Treat all alarms as real

When you exit the building, Residential Life staff will guide you to the evacuation assembly point. Do not reenter the building until you are given permission by police, fire officials or Residential Life staff. The silencing of the alarm does not indicate that the building is safe to reenter.

For more information on fire safety, visit UW Environmental Health and Safety’s page for residence hall fire safety. HFS conducts quarterly evacuation drills in accordance with Seattle Fire Code Section 405. One evacuation drill per building or area is conducted each quarter.


RAs/CAs and the Community Manager in each community know the room locations of students who have identified themselves as having a disability. Each student with a disability is responsible for meeting with their Community Manager to review their personal evacuation procedure. In consultation with DRS, the Com-munity Manager and student will create an evacuation plan specific to their room and building.

Smoke detectors

If your smoke detector malfunctions, contact your front desk or the RA/CA on call to report the problem immediately. Do not disconnect the smoke detector. The maintenance staff will enter rooms/apartments periodically to check smoke detectors.

If a smoke detector needs repair as a result of your tampering, you will be billed for the cost of repair, and you may be subject to disciplinary action.

Carbon monoxide detectors

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas that is produced by fuel-burning appliances, fireplaces, and vehicles that can cause illness and death in some situations, particularly within enclosed indoor areas. CO cannot be seen or smelled, and the most common causes of CO poisoning are the indoor use of charcoal or gas grills. While the risk of CO poisoning in HFS facilities is low, CO detectors have been installed in residential areas in compliance with the Seattle Fire Code, and it is important to treat all alarm activations seriously.

The type of detector installed varies based on the type of building. Typically, HFS buildings have hallway CO detectors integrated into the fire alarm system. HFS apartments with central fire alarms have in-unit CO detectors integrated into the system, and other apartments have plug-in or battery-operated CO detectors in the apartment unit. Regardless of the type, if the detector or system alarms, you should evacuate the apartment or building and contact the RA/CA or the UWPD so that a maintenance team can be dispatched to investigate.

Disaster and emergency protocols

The American Red Cross Safe and Well Program provides a resource for students and families to connect with one another following any kind of major event that might impact the UW campus. The UW has information on American Red Cross Safe and Well and links to other emergency resources.

Should disaster strike, we encourage you to report your status on the Safe and Well website. Your family and friends will be able to search for you by name to find out your status, location and other information you choose to provide.

Out-of-area contact: If you are separated from loved ones when disaster strikes, you might worry about how and where they are. The stress of the event may make it difficult to remember even routine information like phone numbers. Consequently, we recommend that every person have an out-of-area contact card in a wallet, purse or backpack at all times. It may be difficult to make local calls because of the number of people trying to make calls at the same time. The local systems may be overloaded. However, you may be able to make a long-distance call.

Ask a family friend or relative who lives at least 100 miles away from you to be your out-of-area contact.

After a disaster, all family members call this person to tell them how they are and to find out how other family members are. You create a communication circle through a third party.

You may be able to send a text message to your loved ones on your phone. Keep it short!

UW Alert: All HFS residents are automatically enrolled in UW Alert, the campus emergency notification system, using the mobile phone number and email on file with HFS.

In emergency situations, you will receive text messages and/or emails through this system. It is important to pay attention to all alert and advisory mes-sages, and keep your mobile phone number current in the contact information section of your student profile in MyHFS.

Earthquake safety

The state of Washington is in a seismic activity zone that could be subject to a major earthquake. Preparing for an earthquake is everyone’s responsibility. Please visit the UW Emergency Management page for information about preparing for an earthquake.

In case of an active shooter

HFS considers your safety to be the highest priority, and we need you to be a partner in this effort. Unfortunately, active shooter situations have happened on college campuses. For your safety, please visit the UWPD page for active shooter emergency procedures.

HFS has one of the most robust emergency response preparedness structures of any UW department. In addition to the UW’s overall emergency operations group, HFS has its own emergency response group that works within the University’s structure, but focuses on the challenges and issues specific to housing and feeding the nearly 10,000 residents who live with us.