Natural Disasters

Natural disasters can occur at anytime. The best way to respond to a natural disaster is to make sure that you have an emergency kit prepared and an emergency plan established.

During an Earthquake:

  • Stay where you are located.
  • Protect yourself: Drop to the floor, take cover, and hold on to your shelter.
  • Be aware of objects that might fall. Move away from windows and heavy objects.
  • Do not enter or exit a building during shaking, due to danger from falling debris.

During an earthquake, If you are:


  1. Place your head between your knees to protect your face from flying glass or objects.
  2. Crouch under a table or desk away from windows and hold on.
  3. Physically locate yourself in an innermost corner of the room away from windows
  4. Avoid bracing yourself in an inner doorway because of possible injury from the moving door.
  5. Do not use elevators during an earthquake.


  1. Move as far away as possible from buildings, which will likely pelt you with broken glass or debris.
  2. Move away from utility poles, power lines, and trees. Move to an open area.

In a Vehicle

  1. Drive away from underpasses and overpasses. Avoid buildings and utility wires
  2. Stay in the vehicle until the shaking stops.
  3. When shaking stops, proceed cautiously. Avoid damaged bridges and elevated structures.

In a Classroom or Laboratory

  1. Follow the same instructions for being inside during an earthquake.
  2. Faculty, remain in control of the class and keep students inside until the shaking has stopped, unless an identified hazard such as fire or toxic fumes exists.
  3. Turn off gas burners. Extinguish open flames. Beware of hazardous chemicals present in the room. If a hazardous chemical spills, follow the instructions for Hazardous Materials.

In an Auditorium

  1. Crouch in the aisles of the auditorium or large lecture hall. Cover your head and neck.
  2. Stay calm and urge others to stay calm.
  3. When shaking stops, proceed cautiously outside of the building.

After an Earthquake:

  • Move to an area where you know you are safe.
  • Recognize that if you are inside, the electricity and lights are probably out.
  • Do not move a seriously injured person unless he or she is in danger of further injury.
  • Be prepared for additional, likely milder earthquake shocks. These aftershocks may cause additional damage.
  • Check for fires and fire hazards. Don't use candles around natural gas breaks.
  • Do not use any elevator unless it has been checked.
  • Wear shoes to avoid injury from broken glass.
  • Do not eat or drink from open containers because they may contain broken glass.
  • Do not drink from taps unless you have been told the lines are safe.
  • Do not flush toilets unless you have been told it is alright to do so.
  • Watch for downed power lines.

Flooding or Water Damage

  1. Report the outage to CWU Facilities Maintenance and Operations at (509)-963-3000. If it is after hours, report the outage to Kittcom at 509-925-8534. Advise the exact location and severity of the leak.
  2. Notify your immediate Supervisor.
  3. If there are electrical appliances or electrical outlets near the leak, use caution. Do not step into standing water.

Winter Weather

  1. CWU will occasionally cancel classes when severe winter weather threatens.
  2. Do not drive unless you must.
  3. To verify if classes have been closed or delayed, call the CWU snow line: 509-963-2345 or visit the site at
  4. Wear several layers of loose-fitting, light weight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing.
  5. Wear mittens instead of gloves and a hat or cap.
  6. If caught in your car during a blizzard or winter storm, remain in your vehicle and wait to be found.
  7. Watch for symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia.

Thunder or Lightning Storms

  1. If you are in a forest, seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees. Do not stand directly next or underneath a tree.
  2. If you are in an open area, go to a low place such as a ravine or valley.
  3. If you are in open water, get to land and find shelter immediately.
  4. If you feel your hair stand on end (indicates that lightening is about to strike), squat low to the grown on the balls of your feet.
  5. Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees. Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact to the ground. DO NOT lie flat on the ground.
  6. Inform emergency/rescue personnel of the location of any trapped person(s).

Tornadoes: If you are under a Tornado Watch

  1. Go to a pre-designated shelter area, if there is no such area; go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck. Do not cover windows.
  2. If you are in a vehicle, trailer or mobile home get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection.
  3. If outside, with no shelter, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands.

Volcanic Eruptions

Tune into a radio, TV, or computer for information and instructions.

If you ARE TOLD to evacuate:

  1. Continue to listen to radio and TV. An evacuation may still be issued.
  2. Close and lock all windows and outside doors.
  3. Close fireplace dampers.
  4. Turn off all heating and air conditioning systems and fans.
  5. Gather your emergency supplies.
  6. Go into an interior room with no windows above the ground level.

If you ARE NOT TOLD to evacuate:

  1. Do not wait. Leave immediately.
  2. Turn off gas, electricity, and water if time allows.
  3. Take your emergency kit.
  4. Follow designated evacuation routes.

If you are trapped outdoors:

  1. Seek shelter immediately.
  2. If you are caught in a rock fall, curl up in a tight ball to protect yourself.
  3. Be aware of mud flows and flooding if you are near a stream.

During and after the eruption:

  1. Protect yourself from hazardous falling ash.
  2. Stay away from areas downwind of the volcano.
  3. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
  4. Wear goggles to protect your eyes.
  5. Wear a mask or use a damp cloth over your face to minimize breathing in ash.
  6. Keep car engines off and avoid driving.
  7. Stay inside if possible.


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