Emergency Response and Evacuation Procedures

Complete emergency response guidelines for various types of emergencies are disseminated to employees each fall. These are available on line at

Communication and Notification in an Emergency

In the event of an emergency on campus, the university relies on an array of communication tools to keep the campus community informed and relay safety instructions. The Division of Strategic Communications is the only campus office authorized to disseminate official information about campus emergencies to the campus community. The modes of communication include the following and vary with the nature and severity of the situation.

Campus sirens: The sirens may emit a continuous three-minute sound warning. Please note that the sirens are tested at 11 a.m. each Friday.

Emergency alerts: Text messages and e-mails sent when immediate, specific action in response to a situation is needed. To subscribe, go

Public safety notices: E-mails sent when no specific action to a situation is required but information may help raise awareness or mitigate rumors.

Ball State home page: In the event of an emergency, the home page would be one of the first places university officials would post official information for all audiences. Should become unavailable during an emergency on campus, the university may post information on the site

Campus voice mail: As part of the emergency notifications process, official information also will be delivered to campus voice mailboxes.

The above tools are the official sources that help ensure safety and mitigate rumors and speculation. Be aware that the university does not use social media as a form of official communication in the event of an emergency or public safety situation. University faculty and staff should not discuss or post about emergency situations on social media accounts that belong to Ball State. Before discussing or forwarding messages about emergency situations, please check the official communication sources listed above to ensure the accuracy of the information.

In a crisis situation, accuracy and timing are critical, and the public needs to rely on one official, accurate source for its information. The primary source for Ball State is our website,, and our emergency alert system. Please direct requests from the media to the Division of Strategic Communications at (765)285-1560, and refer other external calls seeking information to the Ball State home page.

Severe Weather Communications

When the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning, Ball State will post pertinent information on and send a text message to subscribers of the university’s emergency text messaging system. Continue to monitor the weather via radio or television until the tornado warning has been lifted for your area. The university sends text alerts for tornado warnings only. To receive notifications about other types of weather watches, warnings, and advisories, you may want to explore free alert services such as those offered by and You may also check the current weather in Muncie.

Tornado Watches and Warnings

A tornado watch means that weather conditions are favorable for the formation of a tornado. A tornado warning is issued when a tornado has actually been sighted in the surrounding area. Emergency warning sirens are activated when there is a tornado warning. Check the current weather in Muncie. Starting March 2012, systems began automatically publishing alerts to in the event of a tornado watch or warning. Automatic alerts were performed on March 12, March 23 and May 1, 2012.

Emergency Warning Sirens

  • The emergency warning siren emits a continuous three-minute sound warning.
  • The siren is used to alert the public of an impending danger such as tornado, severe thunderstorm with high winds or large hail, hazardous material spill, or a safety threat. If you hear the siren, you should take cover inside away from glass doors and windows, and tune into your local radio or television stations for further instructions. If you cannot get to a radio or television, initiate tornado protection procedures as this is the most likely reason for the siren to sound.
  • The siren does not sound for the entire duration of a tornado warning. Do not assume that the danger has passed when the siren stops sounding.
  • An all clear, a 30-second blast from the emergency warning sirens, will sound when the danger has passed. In the absence of additional notices or new alerts from third-party weather services, the tornado warning ends at the end time indicated in the initial alert.
  • The emergency warning siren is tested each Friday at 11 a.m. These tests last for 30 seconds. If the emergency warning siren sounds on a Friday morning for longer than 30 seconds, you should initiate tornado protection procedures.

If a tornado warning has been issued and you are inside:

  • Stay inside.
  • Stay away from outside walls, windows, mirrors, glass, overhead fixtures, and unsecured objects such as filing cabinets or bookcases.
  • If possible, move to a below-ground-level floor, interior corridor, or room or office without windows and crouch low with your hands covering the back of your head and neck.
  • Do not use elevators.
  • If requested, assist persons with disabilities to the safest area on the same floor.
  • Do not leave the shelter area until after the storm is over.
  • Continue to monitor the weather using the Internet on a mobile device or via radio or television until the tornado warning has been lifted for your area. Note that both the start and end time of tornado warnings are indicated at online sources and mobile alert services.
  • Follow the directions of building personnel in managed buildings such as residence halls, the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, and the L.A. Pittenger Student Center. These buildings are equipped with weather radios and personnel trained to manage the building in the event of severe weather.
  • All clear: When the danger has passed, the emergency warning sirens will emit a continuous 30-second blast, indicating the all clear. In the absence of additional notices or new alerts from third party weather services, the tornado warning ends at the end time indicated in the initial alert.

If a tornado warning has been issued and you are outside:

  • If you are in your car, get out of it. Never try to outrun a tornado.
  • Look for a nearby safe structure in which to take shelter.
  • If there is no shelter, lie down flat in a low area such as a ditch away from trees with your hands covering the back of your head and neck.

Opt-in Text Messaging

Ball State offers an opt-in text message service that enables students, faculty, and staff to sign up to receive emergency information from the university via their cell phones. To subscribe to this service, go to

Assessing Emergencies

The Department of Public Safety is responsible for determining when an emergency exists, which segments of the campus to notify, and through which means, as well coordinating with the Division of Strategic Communications on the content of any messages. When a significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of students and employees is confirmed to exist, the Department of Public Safety will take into account the safety of the community; determine what information to release; and begin the notification process without delay unless, in the professional judgment of responsible authorities, such notification will compromise efforts to assist a victim, respond to the emergency, or contain or mitigate the emergency.

The entire campus will be notified when the potential exists for the majority of the community to be affected by an emergency situation, or when a situation threatens the operation of the campus as a whole. If the threat is limited to a segment of the population, notification may be limited to that segment, but additional segments of the population will be notified as assessment of the situation reveals a need to do so. Once the campus community has been notified, University Marketing and Communications will notify the neighboring community by updating local media outlets.

The university has two modes of communication: Public Safety Notices are sent when information may benefit the campus community to help raise awareness, mitigate rumors, and convey official information. They are sent when no immediate action is necessary. Emergency Notifications are sent when there is imminent danger on campus and immediate and specific actions can improve safety. When the safety of the campus community is in jeopardy, clear and quick communication is the university’s top priority. The goal of the communication is to first preserve human safety.

Responsible Staff

Director of Public Safety
Associate Vice President for Marketing and Communications
Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs & Director of Housing & Residence Life
Associate Vice President for Facilities Planning and Management
Residence Hall Directors

Dissemination of Information

Once it has been determined that an imminent danger situation exists, the Emergency Notification System is activated. Information—including safety instructions for students, faculty, and staff—will be made available to the campus community through e-mail, opt-in text messaging, voice mail, the Ball State Web site, and local radio and TV stations. The Division of Strategic Communications is the only campus office authorized to disseminate official information about campus emergencies to the campus community. Updated information about the situation will be posted on the Ball State Web site ( as available.

Testing Procedures

The university tests its emergency notification protocol and technical systems no fewer than three times per year. The university conducts emergency response exercises each year, such as table top exercises, field exercises, and tests of the emergency notification systems on campus. These tests are designed to assess and evaluate the emergency plans and capabilities of the institution. In addition to regular testing of email/text communication, public address, sirens (tested each Friday at 11:00 a.m.), etc. emergency response/evacuation tests during 2012 included:

  • All-hazard plan testing conducted by Ball State police. Annual all-hazard plan testing is required for Ball State’s accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). Note: Ball State’s University police department is one of two college/university law enforcement agencies in Indiana accredited by CALEA and was reaccredited in 2013.
  • The President’s cabinet and crisis management team conducted a table-top exercise regarding response to a reported sexual predator and multiple student deaths on February 21. This was not an announced exercise.
  • The Division of Strategic Communications conducts a comprehensive emergency communications test on a regular basis. These are tests of communication systems including e-mail, text-messaging, voicemail, and digital signage. These tests were conducted in 2012 on January 31 and July 26.
  • Employees and students are regularly notified by email regarding emergency preparedness procedures. In 2013, these took place on February 10, February 13 (specific to weather), May 22, and August 30. Tests of the emergency email notification took place on July 12 and August 15 in conjunction with public safety notice testing (also July 12 and August 15).


To be prepared for an emergency, Ball State community members are expected to recognize the sound of the evacuation alarm, know at least two ways out of the building from regular workspace, and know the predetermined meeting location for their units as appropriate.

When Ball State community members hear the evacuation alarm or are verbally instructed to begin evacuating a building, they should:

  1. Try to make sure that all members of their departments or units hear the alarm and evacuate the area by quickly checking nearby restrooms, copier rooms, storage rooms, etc., as you exit.
  2. Use the nearest stairway. Do not use the elevator.
  3. If requested, accompany and assist persons with disabilities. Shut all doors behind them. Closed doors can slow the spread of fire, smoke, and water.
  4. Evacuate as quickly as possible but in an orderly manner. Do not push or shove.
  5. Once outside, move at least 100 feet from the building or follow the instructions of emergency personnel on the scene.
  6. Stay away from building entrances to avoid interfering with emergency personnel or equipment.