Emergency Management FAQs

Emergency Plans

George Mason University maintains an all-hazards Emergency Operations Plan and Continuity of Operations Plan in accordance with state requirements. Mason’s Emergency Operations Plan defines the structure and general procedures that should be followed in an emergency. This plan is supported by Emergency Support Functions that help direct function-specific (i.e., communications, transportation, mass care, etc.) response activities. Hazard-specific plans have been developed to respond to unique emergency events and are integrated into the Emergency Operations Plan. Due to the sensitive nature of the information contained within emergency plans, the university does not make them available to the public. If you have specific questions or concerns about emergency preparedness and response procedures at George Mason University please contact the Environmental Health and Safety Office at (703) 993-8448 or  safety@gmu.edu.

Emergency Preparedness Guides provide specific information about how to prepare for an emergency and what you should do during an emergency. Visit ready.gmu.edu and select the be Prepared tab to access the guides and compile them for your location.  EHS can assist you in completing and compiling these guides for your work area and can also provide training on how to respond to emergencies. For more information or assistance please contact EHS at (703) 993-8448 or safety@gmu.edu.

Consult the Emergency Evacuation Guide, available in the Be Prepared tab at ready.gmu.edu.  Evacuation Plans are posted throughout university buildings.  Evacuation Plans provide primary and alternate exit routes, the location of fire alarm pull stations, the location of fire extinguishers, and Automated External Defibrillators (AED) if the building is equipped with AED.

Consult the Tornado and Severe Weather Preparation Guide, available at ready.gmu.edu/be prepared.  Shelter Area signs identifying locations that can serve as temporary shelters during severe weather have been posted throughout university buildings.  If you would like assistance identifying shelter area and/or desire shelter signs, please contact EHS at (703) 993-8448 or safety@gmu.edu.

Consult the Earthquake Preparation and Response Guide, available at ready.gmu.edu/be prepared.  Please consider participating in the Statewide Earthquake Drill held every year in October.  Information about this drill is announced via Mason Alert.

When the university experiences a regional or university-wide emergency or severe weather event, and it is determined that it is not safe for students, faculty and staff to leave campus, instructions will be provided on where to assemble, who to contact for assistance, and what services will remain available for students, faculty, staff, and visitors.  Information and messages regarding emergencies will be sent to you via Mason Alert, (George Mason University’s emergency messaging system at alert.gmu.edu) and posted on the university’s homepage www.gmu.edu.

Information about emergencies that might occur on campus and appropriate response procedures is available online at ready.gmu.edu. Sign up for Mason Alert, George Mason University’s emergency messaging system at alert.gmu.edu.  You can also look at the university’s homepage, www.gmu.edu, for information about schedule modification and closings.


The university does not have a Floor Warden program.  Instead, all university employees are instructed to exit buildings upon notification of a fire or other emergency.  Fire alarms or instructions provided by emergency response personnel must be observed and all employees are asked to assist in notifying and encouraging others to evacuate buildings during an emergency if safety permits.  For more information about building evacuation procedures please see the Emergency Evacuation Guide available at ready.gmu.edu/be prepared.

Mason Alert

Mason Alert is George Mason University’s emergency notification system that is used to send emergency notifications and timely warnings to the university community via text, email, telephone call, social media, RAVE Guardian mobile app, Mason Mobile app, and digital signage.

All university students and employees are automatically enrolled in Mason Alert upon receiving a university email address.  Students and employees will receive emergency messages via email.

Students, faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to register cell phone number(s) with Mason Alert.  To register your cell phone number with Mason Alert, login to Patriotweb, select personal information from the menu, and then select Mason Alert Registration at the bottom of the page.  Update your phone number, select ‘yes’, select submit, and select continue.  If you need assistance with your Mason Alert account please contact alert@gmu.edu.

Go to alert.gmu.edu and click on the green Mason Alert icon to access your account. Your user name and password are the same credentials you use for your your George Mason University email address.  Access to your Mason Alert account requires Two-Factor authentication.

To update your mobile phone number in Mason Alert, login to Patriotweb, select personal information from the menu and then select Mason Alert Registration at the bottom of the page.  Update your phone number, select ‘yes’, select submit, and select continue.


Mason Alert administrators send a test message periodically.  You can also log-in to your account alert.gmu.edu to check the status of each of the devices that you registered and send a test message to your registered cell phone(s) and email account(s).


Mason Alert provides emergency information regarding hazardous or emergency situations on campus. Emergency messages will include information about changes to the university’s operating schedule, canceled classes, and warnings about situations that occur on campus and the actions you should take to protect yourself.

Students should register their parents’ email accounts and cell phone numbers as additional devices under the student’s mail Mason Alert account.

For anyone that does not have an @masonlive.gmu.edu or @gmu.edu account, please use the guest account portal at alert.gmu.edu. This portal will allow you to register for Mason Alert as a member of the Mason community.  You will receive the same alerts sent to Mason students and employees.

*Parents, Guardians, Family, and Friends: Please ask your student(s) to register your cell phone number(s) and email address(es) on their @masonlive.gmu.edu or @gmu.edu accounts to allow the university to maintain your account for the duration of your student’s time as Mason.

**Guest Account: This temporary account allows you to register your cell phone or email address to receive emergency notifications and timely warnings issued by George Mason University.  Please note that your account will be deleted on an annual basis for system maintenance.

***Visitor Text Message Option: Visitors to Mason may also choose to receive text message alerts while participating in an event, camp, or program. Text masonalert to 226787 to receive text messages about emergencies on campus and changes to campus operations.  Text messages are sent on an as-needed basis.  Message and data rates may apply. This service is provided per the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Text STOP to 226787 to cancel or HELP for tech support.

Students, faculty, and staff should not use this feature; instead, please register your devices using your university-issued Mason Alert account.


Personal Preparedness

The university has a preparedness application called RAVE Guardian.  RAVE Guardian is a campus safety mobile application that enhances preparedness and safety on-campus using interactive features and allowing students to create a virtual network of friends, family and campus safety personnel.  The application also includes anonymous, two-way crime reporting through text and picture messaging. The application is available to all students with a university email address for free through the iTunes store and Google Play store.

More information about the RAVE Guardian application and other preparedness resources can be found at ready.gmu.edu/be-prepared/.


Get a kit. Make a plan. Be informed. Information on each of these actions is available at www.ready.gov.

Go to the “Build a Kit” page on ready.gov/kit. There you will find information on what to include in your emergency supply kit, where to store it, and how to maintain it.

Go to ready.gov/car for a list of additional items to keep in your car, as well as, a mechanic check list to prepare your vehicle for emergencies.


Employees are encouraged to provide information for one or more emergency contacts to the university in the event that an emergency occurs and the university must contact an employee’s emergency contact. Emergency contact information can be entered in Patriotweb. Visit Patriotweb, log in, select “Personal Information”, select “Personal Profile”, scroll down to the Emergency Contact section and add or update contacts as necessary.


If you cannot come to work due to unsafe conditions and the university has not altered its operating schedule, contact your supervisor to discuss your work arrangements and concerns.

When the university experiences a regional emergency, university-wide emergency, or severe weather event and determines that it is not safe for students, faculty and staff to leave campus, instructions will be provided on where to assemble, who to contact for assistance, and the services available. Information and messages regarding emergencies will be sent to you via Mason Alert, George Mason University’s emergency notification system alert.gmu.edu, and will also post on the university webpage, www.gmu.edu.

Regional Emergency

A regional emergency is an emergency that is large enough or severe enough to impact a portion of the D.C. Metropolitan Region, Northern Virginia, or the Commonwealth of Virginia with severe disruptions to traffic, utilities, transportation. Examples include hurricanes, major snowstorms, flooding, pandemic diseases, terrorism, and regional power outages.

George Mason University cooperates with state and local governments, community partners, and surrounding states to respond to regional emergencies. The role that George Mason University will assume in a regional emergency is dependent up the location, severity, and impact of the emergency. The university maintains plans in accordance with state regulations to assist the university in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from emergencies of all types.

Student Residents

Please reference the Resident Safety Program webpage for information on resident student policies and frequently asked questions.

Fires and Building Evacuations

Evacuate the building when the fire alarm sounds or when a university official or first responder instructs you to evacuate. You should report to directly to your building’s Designated Assembly Area which is identified on the evacuation plan located throughout each building. Failure to evacuate a building when the fire alarm sounds is a misdemeanor and punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment.

A Designated Assembly Area is a pre-identified outdoor location at least 50 feet from a building where individuals should upon evacuating the building. The Designated Assembly Area is identified on Evacuation Plans posted throughout university buildings.

Each Evacuation Plan has at least two Designated Assembly Areas identified. Know where both are located in case one is not available. In the event that the Designated Assembly Areas cannot be occupied due to a hazard, are occupied by emergency response personnel, or are otherwise unsafe, select an alternate assembly area that meets the criteria outlined in the Emergency Evacuation Guide.

It is only safe to re-enter a building that has been evacuated when the fire department, university official, or emergency response personnel tells you it is safe to do so.

Emergency Information

George Mason University uses Mason Alert to officially announce closures or changes to campus operations.  You can also look on the university homepage www.gmu.edu for additional information about university operations.  Many local news sources will compile and report closures around the region.  Always verify any reported closures or delays with Mason Alert or the university homepage.

Individuals with Disabilities

If you have a disability, you are encouraged to identify an Evacuation Assistant. This person may be a co-worker or friend who volunteers to assist you during an emergency. If you are unable to evacuate a building during an emergency, you should let your Evacuation Assistant or someone know you are unable to evacuate and go to an Area of Assistance. An Area of Assistance is an area that is reasonably protected from fire and severe weather; it should provide temporary shelter until emergency response personnel arrive. If you need assistance identifying an Area of Assistance, please contact EHS at (703) 993-8448 or safety@gmu.edu.

EM Training

EHS provides Emergency Preparedness Workshops.  These workshops provide instruction on how to prepare for and respond to various emergencies.  The workshops can be tailored to a department’s individual needs.  To request a workshop for your department, contact EHS at safety@gmu.edu.

Fire extinguisher training is available to everyone at George Mason University at no cost. For a list of training sessions or to register for training, visit ehs.gmu.edu/training.

CPR/AED and First Aid training are available at no cost to some members of the university based on their job function. Please contact EHS at (703) 993-8448 or safety@gmu.edu for more information.  Local CPR training opportunities can be found on the American Heart Association website.