Emergency Preparedness

Confident young woman

In the event of a major emergency, officials say you need be prepared to be self-sufficient for 72 hours, even in residence. That may sound extreme, but if you’re ready, you’ll be able to respond confidently and safely during an emergency situation.

Sign up for UBC Alert

We recommend all residents sign up for UBC Alert—the university’s mass notification system, which sends alerts in urgent situations that pose an immediate safety or security risk to the community.

Personal Emergency Kits

Everyone who lives in residence should have an emergency kit. You can buy one online from Canadian Red Cross and Amazon—or from a number of retail stores in Vancouver.

What should an emergency kit contain?

Make sure your emergency kit contains:

  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Signal whistle
  • Emergency blanket
  • Emergency rain poncho
  • N95 mask
  • Pocket-sized pack of tissues
  • Manual can opener
  • Food that won’t spoil—enough for 72 hours
  • Eight litres of water per person
  • Battery-powered or wind-up radio
  • Cash and coins for vending machines
  • Contact information for friends and family (in case your mobile device runs out of power).

Plus, include special items, such as:

  • prescription medications
  • toiletries
  • glasses or contact lenses
  • equipment for students with disabilities
Remember to replace food and water once a year!

Emergency kit

How to respond to the following emergencies


During an earthquake:

  • Drop to the floor, cover your head and hold on to something solid under a table or desk, between rows of seats or against an inside wall.
  • Wait for the shaking to stop and count to 60, to allow time for debris to fall, before moving.
  • If you’re outside, stay outside. If you’re inside, stay inside (unless there is a fire or the building is in danger of collapsing).
  • If you’re in a moving vehicle, stop in a clear area, away from falling debris, and stay inside the vehicle.

After an earthquake:

  • Apply first aid as required.
  • Do not make phone calls unless they are lifesaving, since cell networks can be overwhelmed.
  • Listen to the radio or TV for emergency updates.
  • Avoid entering damaged buildings.
  • Expect aftershocks and power outages.


Small fires

Douse with a fire extinguisher, which you’ll find in residence common areas.

Spreading blaze

  • Pull the fire alarm.
  • Leave the building by the nearest exit.
  • Call 911.
  • Stay low to the ground to avoid flames, smoke and fumes.
  • Do not use elevators.
  • Walk—don’t run—and use handrails as you descend stairs.
  • If you cannot safely get downstairs, go to the nearest safe area and wait for a firefighter.

Severe Weather

  • Expect power outages and phone disruptions, even for your mobile phone.
  • Avoid overhead hazards, such as tree branches and power lines.
  • Avoid glass and debris on sidewalks and roads.

Leak or Flood

  • Inform the front desk staff in your residence area immediately and let them know the source of the water leak: roof, window, pipe, washroom, etc.
  • Do not walk through water.
  • Avoid wet wires, electrical equipment and power out­lets.
  • Do not attempt to use moisture-dam­aged equipment.

Power Outage

  • Keep your flashlight and other emergency sup­plies nearby.
  • Avoid moving around in the dark unless you have a flashlight.
  • Do not attempt to use your stove, computers, TVs, ste­reos or other electrical equipment.
  • Do not attempt to examine, repair or open electrical equipment.
  • Don’t open your fridge—to make sure your food stays cold.

Boil Water Advisory

UBC’s tap water is safe and healthy to drink. However, in case of a boil water advisory:

  • Boil all tap water used for drinking, brushing teeth, pre­paring food, beverages, ice cubes, and wash­ing fruits and vegetables.
  • Tap water should be boiled for one minute; then, let it cool and pour it into a clean container.

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