Preparedness and Response Blog

Five Must Haves for Your University’s Emergency Management Website

Written by Cassandra Nordyke | Mar 16, 2017 3:40:13 PM

It is the responsibility of your college or university’s threat assessment planning team to develop strategies that best meet the needs of your environment and the individuals you seek to protect.

With this in mind, it’s important to consider evacuation and lock down procedures for everyone that may be on campus. Creating, maintaining and distributing up-to-date procedures is critical to the planning process, and providing all relevant stakeholders with this information is expected. Thus, it has become commonplace to dedicate a portion of a college or university’s website to emergency management and response.

Related: Learn best practices used by the public sector to prepare for a variety of emergencies and daily operations to ensure the safety of your campus community.

To get you started, here are the top five elements your website should outline or include:

  1. Primary and secondary evacuation routes.

Since each building and campus is different, evacuation routes cannot be created equal. It is important to review existing buildings periodically and determine if changes in use or configuration of corridors or rooms have an impact on required evacuation routes. Having these routes posted on your website will guide staff, students and visitors to safety in the instance of an unexpected event.

  1. Emergency shelter-in-place locations to support secondary measures of hiding if evacuation is not possible.

For some emergencies, the best course of action is to stay indoors, within protected areas. The evacuation of a building following a gun threat, bomb threat or severe weather event may place people at more risk than if they had stayed indoors. Using your website to inform faculty staff and students that there is a place for them to find shelter in these situations will help ensure safety on campus.

  1. Mapped locations of campus communication devices, first-aid kits, alarm systems and other relevant emergency supplies.

Informing facility staff and students where they can find needed supplies or systems during an emergency not only affords a sense of relief, but it also helps communicate and safeguard the people on campus in the event of an emergency.

  1. Procedures to communicate whether campus locations are safe or unsafe.

With the rise in technology, it is important to have a notification system that can update necessary parties in real time. Does your campus have a section on their website that tells facility staff, students and loved ones about how they can be enrolled into the notification system? Doing so helps ensure that relevant parties are informed of the campus’s safety status at all times.

  1. Response instructions for evacuation procedures, shelter-in-place instructions and defensive tactics.

Having a section on your website that informs parties what to do and where to be in any emergency situation helps secure their safety in high stress situations. 

On the website, this information should be easily accessible at all times to both users of the website and the community. If your website does not meet these established standards, it may be time to consider aligning with industry best practices and building out this vital emergency management section on your website.

An important factor to consider when planning the type of information you want to share on your website is how you are managing that information internally.  A web-based crisis management software, such as WebEOC, allows you to track multiple resources and data points in a central location, allowing you to easily pull the latest information that is communicated to the public.