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Our emergency procedures encompass chemical spills, fire, injury, toxic or explosive materials, and other emergencies such as floods and power outages. There is also information on what to do during severe weather, particularly, tornado watches and warnings.
Emergency Notifications & Alarms
Emergency Notifications & Alarms
Outdoor warning sirens
- Hennepin and Ramsey counties have outdoor warning sirens located on or near campus.
- The sirens, which are typically activated during severe weather situations, are tested at 1 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month.
- The University of Minnesota has an outdoor warning system called the Campus Wide Emergency Alert System that transmits verbal warnings and instructions in an emergency.
Tone Alert Radios (TARs)
- TARs are located in buildings across campus.
- The University of Minnesota Police Department will activate the radio when there is urgent information that needs to be transmitted (e.g., severe weather, street/building closures).
- TARs are tested at 1 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month.
- SAFE-U is the University's emergency text notification system.
- For more information or to register, see the SAFE-U website.
Emails and Twitter Messages
- Check your email during an emergency for communication from the department about what is currently known about the incident.
- When appropriate and authorized, department communicators, working with university officials, will tweet messages @UMNChemistry.
- Please do not tweet messages and photos on your own due to the risk of misinformation.
- Fire alarms are present in both buildings and will go off if evacuation is necessary.
- The alarms will be very loud and have flashing lights.
- The building emergency alarm system can be activated in the event of an emergency requiring building evacuations such as a fire or major chemical spill.
- Any time the building alarm sounds, immediate evacuation of the building is mandatory.
- Meet with other occupants away from the building.
- If there is no alarm sounding but a police, fire or haz-mat official tells you to evacuate you are required to leave the building.
- Failure to evacuate when requested by authorities can result in arrest.
- Evacuate by the nearest exit and stay off of the elevator.
- Move away from the building.
- Do not return to the building until the all clear is given by the police, fire official, or a member of the haz-mat team.
- Building occupants are responsible for ensuring that their visitors/customers to their department follow the evacuation procedure described herein, and leave the building along with all other occupants.
- Faculty and instructors are responsible for dismissing their classes, and directing students to leave the building by the nearest building exit upon hearing the building alarm or being notified of an emergency.
- Designated essential personnel needed to continue or shut down critical operations, while an evacuation is underway, are responsible for recognizing and/or determining when to abandon the operation and evacuate themselves.
- Contract workers will be made familiar with the procedures outlined herein, and are expected to leave the building when the alarm sounds.
Call 911 for all emergencies (police, fire, ambulance).
- For a chemical release of any size, it is always acceptable to call 911.
- For a chemical spill that requires a prompt response, but it not an emergency, you can also call 911 and request a, "Consult with DEHS staff on call."
If you call an emergency number, notify the front office as soon as possible, (612) 624-6000.
|Chemical spills (for prompt response, but no emergency, ask to Consult with DEHS staff on call)||911|
|Department of Environmental Health & Safety: Consult with DEHS staff on call||(612) 626-6002|
|Facilities Management||(612) 624-2900|
|University Emergency Management||(612) 625-8047|
|Sexual Violence Program (Aurora Center crisis line)||(612) 626-9111|
|Suicide Prevention||(612) 347-2222|
It is always acceptable to call 911 for a chemical release of any size. You are never expected to clean up a chemical spill, if you have not received training, do not have proper equipment, or feel uncomfortable.
- fire or explosion potential—>25% lower explosive limit (LEL)
- conditions immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH), including low oxygen and a high level exposure to toxic substances
- uncontrolled release of a hazardous substance
- hazardous spill in a public hallway
- spills > 5 gallons
Often spills require a prompt response, but do not pose an emergency. For those, contact the Department of Environmental Health and Safety (DEHS) by calling 911, then request “Consult with DEHS on call.” Don't hesitate to call:
- for any amount of mercury or stench chemical,
- spills > 4 L,
- if you don’t feel comfortable, or have the training or supplies needed to clean it up, and
- need guidance assessing the situation, additional supplies, monitoring equipment or responders.
If you are familiar with the chemical hazards, have received training, have supplies needed to clean up, feel comfortable handling chemicals and would like to perform responsive control measures, you may do so at the time of release in the immediate area.
- Small chemical spills may be cleaned up by laboratory personnel.
There are two spill kit carts, either of which may be moved to the location of the spill. These carts are located in:
- Kolthoff Hall—northwest hallway near 681
- Smith Hall—hallway by the east elevator on the sub-basement level.
Spill kit carts are locked, but are accessible with any lab or office key.
If you use contents from either of these spill kits, please notify Chuck Tomlinson, (612) 624-2321, as soon as possible.
Spill kit contents
- plastic vinyl booties
- vinyl gloves
- neoprene gloves
- dust masks
- face shield
- barricade tape
- paper towels
- large sponges
- plastic dust pan
- whisk broom
- plastic bags (2-3 30 gallon size)
- sodium bicarbonate, 5 lbs.
- sodium bisulfate, 2 lbs.
- blank labels
- marking pen
- floor absorbent, 20 lbs.
- sodium thiosulfate, dilute solution
Large spills or toxic materials
- Larger spills or spills of especially toxic materials should be cleaned up by professionals.
- Immediately, contact the Department of Environmental Health & Safety at (612) 626-6002.
- After hours or on weekends, call 911 for assistance.
- Always contact chemistry's administrative office, (612) 624-6000, as soon as possible.
Except for a small bead or two from a broken thermometer, mercury spills should always be cleaned up by the Department of Environmental Health & Safety at (612) 626-6002.
- Remove everyone from the area of immediate danger.
- Confine the fire by closing all doors and windows to the area.
- Dial 911.
- Give the location of the fire and whether there is smoke odor, visible smoke, or visible flame.
- Activate the building alarm system at the nearest manual alarm station.
- Vacate the building until the "all clear" is given.
- Stay out of the elevators.
- Report the fire to the Front Office, 139 Smith Hall, 612-624-6000.
- Use caution: Fight the fire only if you can do so without endangering yourself.
Use and Types of Fire Extinguishers
Individuals are not required to fight chemical fires and have the right to call 911 and activate the building alarm. Do not take any chances: Be Safe.
Remember that there are different types of fire extinguishers available, and that not all fire extinguishers are suitable for all types of fire.
- In attempting to extinguish a fire make sure that it is safe to do so and remember that an extinguisher is only a first aid tool and should not be used to control large fires.
- Fire extinguishers are intended for small isolated fires only.
- The extinguisher only has about 10 to 30 seconds of spray and is only effective over a short distance of about 5 to 10 feet.
- In using a fire extinguisher, make sure that the exit is always within reach.
- Be careful not to trap any persons on the other side of a fire.
- It is best to have more than one individual present when attempting to extinguish a fire.
- Do not take any chances.
It is helpful to remember the acronym "PAS." when using an extinguisher.
- P Pull the Pin
- A Aim at the base of the flames
- S Squeeze the trigger while holding the extinguisher upright
- S Sweep from side to side
Whenever a fire extinguisher is discharged it should be inspected and recharged. Discharged fire extinguishers must be taken to the department stockfroom for replacement. Facilities Management inspects and tags fire extinguishers annually.
- If the injury is minor, go to the University of Minnesota Hospital Emergency Room accompanied by another person.
- If the injury is serious, dial 911:
- describe your injury,
- tell them where you are.
- All work-related injuries must be reported to Chuck Tomlinson in chemistry's administrative office, 139 Smith Hall.
- A First Report of Injury form must be filled out promptly.
Toxic or explosive materials
- Remove everyone from the area.
- Close off area to prevent spread of hazardous material.
- Dial 911: report the nature and location of the hazard.
- Activate the building alarm system at the nearest manual alarm station.
- Report the incident to chemistry's administrative office, 139 Smith Hall, (612) 624-6000.
For other emergencies such as floods or power outages:
- Contact chemistry's administrative office, 139 Smith Hall, (612) 624-6000, during work hours for Facilities Management assistance.
- If the situation is not critical, but requires resolution before the next business day, call the Automation Center, (612) 625-0011.
- At all other times, call 911.
Mental health resources
The University of Minnesota has a number of resources on the Student Mental Health website. Information for staff members and faculty is available at on the faculty and staff website, including information on the Employee Assistance Program.
Crisis/Urgent Consultation is available on campus
Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
No appointment is needed to speak with a counselor for an urgent need.
If you are in a life-threatening emergency, call 911.
Or for 24-hour phone counseling, call Crisis Connection (612) 301-4673
U of M Textline: Text "UMN" to 61222
Mental Health Advocate
Professor Philippe Buhlmann is participating as an advocate in the Mental Health Advocate pilot project supported by the Provost's Committee on Student Mental Health on the Twin Cities campus. The purpose of this initiative is to increase awareness of campus mental health resources among University faculty and staff by creating a network of departmental advocates. He has agreed to serve in this capacity for the Department of Chemistry and is available to consult with students, staff, or faculty, to help direct students (and non-students) to appropriate campus resources. As part of the program's efforts, Professor Buhlmann has placed a sign on his office door that identifies him as serving in this role.
As a mental health advocate for the Department of Chemistry, Buhlmann has agreed to:
- Serve as point of contact for students, faculty and staff to disseminate current, and accurate information about campus student mental health resources and services.
- Possess a general level of comfort talking with students, (staff or faculty) about sensitive information, with the goal of connecting students to the appropriate campus resources and knowing which offices to consult with as needed.
- Maintain information shared by students, staff or faculty in a confidential manner, and understand the need to share sensitive information on a need-to- know basis.
- Read and review, and when appropriate disseminate within the department, monthly emails that provide updates on new or changes in campus mental health resources, events, or services.
- Share departmental feedback on general mental health concerns to the Provost Committee co-chairs, to highlight what is working and what needs improvement and identify any student mental health themes that emerge within the department.
If you hear the tornado sirens, the tone alert with an emergency alert broadcast, or receive a txt alert, seek shelter immediately.
We do have a weather radio in chemistry's administrative office, 139 Smith Hall, which alerts us if a tornado watch or warning is declared for the Twin Cities or surrounding area.
- If this happens, an email will be sent to allusers, providing details of the watch or warning.
- Ensure that people on your floor and especially in your immediate area are aware of the alert so they may turn their radios on and be ready to move to a safe area if necessary.
- Remember that undergraduates are not part of our allusers email list.
- On the University of Minnesota campus, the tornado warning siren is tested at 1 p.m. the first Wednesday of the month.
- Kolthoff Hall: basement level and north corridor on the first floor.
- Smith Hall: Sub-basement level, basement level, and first floor corridors.
- Ensure that you are registered with the University of Minnesota's SAFE-U emergency notification system—the University's mass notification text messaging system.
During a Severe Weather Watch
- Be prepared to shut down experiments or equipment in case you need to evacuate.
- Take into account possible power or other utility outages following a storm.
During a Severe Weather Warning
- Remain calm.
- Perform “Critical Laboratory Shutdown Procedures” if you are not in immediate danger.
- Close all windows.
- Proceed to the designated safe area.
- Close all doors to rooms with outside windows.
- Listen to all emergency paging and SAFE-U for an all clear before leaving the safety area and returning to the work area.
Threats & Violence
Threats and violence
Call 9-1-1 for police assistance, if you observe violence taking place or you believe/feel there is an immediate threat to someone's safety. For tips on dealing with threats and violence, visit the University Police Department's web page.