What To Do In A Case Of Emergency

Call this number, (213)740-4321, to contact the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to report all emergencies, including fires or fire alarms, bomb threats, injuries requiring medical assistance, hazardous materials incidents, or any other incident requiring rapid response. Provide all information requested, including name, location, nature of emergency, and your telephone number.

The Public Safety control center will dispatch DPS officers, the fire department, Environmental Health and Safety responders, Facilities Management staff, or any other assistance required. If possible, also call the main office at 213-740-6060 and provide notification of the emergency.

While emergencies are certainly difficult to predict, the most important thing is for you to remain calm. Your judgment will be your best asset in an urgent situation. Familiarizing yourself with these procedures will help you stay safe, and could save your life.


Fires often start out small and spread very quickly. Do not assume that you can extinguish a fire on your own.

Attempt to put the fire out with a portable fire extinguisher ONLY when:
You have been properly trained
The fire is small (wastebasket size)
You are not alone
A safe escape route is present
If this is not true, simply close the door and evacuate. Do not block/wedge exit doors in an open position.

In the event of a fire, or if you smell smoke:
Activate the nearest fire alarm.
Leave at once, shutting the door behind you, making sure you have your cell phone, keys, identification, purse or wallet.
If possible, alert others on your floor to evacuate.
Be sure to use the stairs when evacuating and avoid elevators!


If an evacuation is necessary, it is important to try and remain calm to ensure your safety.
If possible, check to make sure you have your keys, identification, and purse or wallet.
If you are in a lab, secure any hazardous materials or equipment before you leave.
Close the door behind you.
Do not attempt to use an elevator.

Proceed out of the building to a safe distance away. A DPS officer, or other authorized official, will help direct you to a secure location.

If possible, assist other people who may need help.

Suspicious Person

If you see somebody acting suspiciously:
Do not provide him/her access to any secure area.
Call the Department of Public Safety at (213)740-4321
Do not physically confront the person, but do take note of what the person is wearing and what he/she looks like.

If the person attempts to flee the area via an exit, do not attempt to block the person from leaving. But, do try to note the direction the person fled.

If you see any criminal activity, call the USC Department of Public Safety at (213) 740-4321 on the University Park Campus or (323) 442-1000 on the Health Sciences Campus.

Suspicious Package or Object

If you receive mail, or see an object that you find suspicious:
Do not touch or disturb the object. Leave it where it is.
Notify your supervisor and/or Department of Public Safety at (213)740-4321 so that they may provide assistance in how to proceed.
If you fear that you may have already been exposed to a hazardous material, move away from the package and await medical attention. Medical personnel will come to you.

Power Outage

Report the outage to Public Safety (740-4321 or 442-1000), and to Facilities Management Services (740-6833 or 224-7001). Help people in darkened areas move to safety.

Do not attempt to use elevators. Check elevators to determine if anyone is trapped inside. If so, immediately call for help; do not attempt to force open doors and rescue them.

Shutdown any laboratory equipment that could be hazardous if the power suddenly returns. Unplug computers and equipment during the outage, especially if not connected to a surge protector.

Management Services on the likely duration of the outage. However, in many cases, the duration cannot be determined.

• Many university buildings are equipped with emergency power generators, but these provide power only for fire alarms and emergency lights, not for normal electrical outlets.

In the event of a power outage:
Remain calm.
Do not use candles! Instead, use a flashlight.
Unplug any electronics such as computers, televisions, and stereos.
If you were cooking, be sure your oven and stove are turned off.
Emergency lights and placards should illuminate. Move cautiously to a lighted area.
Assist others if necessary.

Severe Weather

If severe weather occurs while you are on campus, a coordinated effort between the Department of Public Safety and appropriate officials will occur.
Listen carefully for instructions.
If a power outage occurs, follow the procedures listed earlier on this site.
If an evacuation is necessary, be sure to take your keys and identification, and follow the evacuation procedures on this site.
The Department of Public Safety officers will alert you when danger is no longer present.

Bomb Threat

Get as much information as possible from the caller and report
the threat immediately to Public Safety (740-4321 or 442-1000).
If possible, be sure to note
■ The exact time of the call
■ The caller’s exact words
■ Any noticeable characteristics of the caller
■ Any information about the explosive device or it’s location.
Bomb threats received through the mail or by other means are also to be reported immediately.

The Department of Public Safety will assess the threat and advise the building’s occupants if it is necessary to evacuate the building. If it is necessary to evacuate, assemble outdoors and stay 300 feet away from the building until advised to return.


The following procedures apply to major earthquakes that cause strong shaking.
If indoors, drop, cover, and hold. Protect yourself from falling objects such as light fixtures, bookcases, cabinets, shelves, and other furniture that might slide or topple. Stay away from windows. If possible, get under a table or desk. Hold on and be prepared to move with it. If no shelter is available, seek cover against an interior wall and protect your head and neck with your arms.

Do not stand in a doorway. The earthquake safety procedure of moving to a doorway is obsolete, and doorways offer no greater protection than any other area. In fact, some individuals have been injured while moving toward or standing in a doorway during an earthquake.

If outside, move away from structures, power poles, or other possible hazards. Stay in an open area.

During the shaking, do not run for exits or attempt to leave the building, since heavy objects or debris may be falling in your path.

Do not use the elevators.
When the shaking stops, check for injuries to personnel in your area. Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger. Render first aid assistance if required.

Check the area for safety hazards such as building damage, fires, spills of flammable or combustible liquids, or leaks of flammable gases. If the area or building appears to be unsafe, begin evacuation procedures.

Turn off ignition, heat, and gas sources before evacuating if it is safe to do so. This may include laboratory equipment, workshop equipment, or electrical equipment in offices.
Exit the building and go to the assembly point to report on injuries, damage, and potentially hazardous conditions.

Call Public Safety at (213) 740-4321 to report any serious injuries or other immediate emergencies. If the phone line is busy, send a runner to the campus Emergency Operations Center to notify them of any needed assistance and emergencies that may exist.

Once you have exited the building, do not reenter until the building has been inspected by trained USC emergency personnel.

Use the telephone system only for urgent matters. Listen to battery-operated radio for emergency information.

Campus Evacuation

Campus evacuation will be carried out only in extreme circumstances that make it essential. In the unlikely event that evacuation of the campus becomes necessary, evacuation instructions will be communicated to the campus community. Schools and departments should move to their emergency assembly areas, and leave the campus as appropriate under the prevailing conditions, consistent with guidance provided by emergency response personnel. Instructions for return to campus will be provided as soon thereafter as possible.

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