Human-made Hazards

Some of the more likely events that could impact MSU

Power Outages

MSU generates its’ own electricity for most of the campus.  This source of power is very reliable, however, accidents, weather and intentional acts could disrupt the flow of energy.

Power disruptions may make certain building unsafe to occupy.  The safest course of action in a power outage is usually to evacuate the building.  Remember that power outages may affect traffic lights and signals.  Treat all intersections as four way stops if the lights are not working.


Fires at MSU are few and generally minor.  However, with over 1300 Laboratories, and perhaps the largest live-in population in the nation, accidents and arsons are always a possibility.

The MSU Police Fire Marshal unit is tasked with maintaining compliance with fire codes, fire safety inspections, maintenance of portable fire extinguishers and fire/arson investigations.

Students, Staff and visitors should take time to familiarize themselves with the fire evacuation plans for each building they enter.

Fire suppression is the responsibility of the East Lansing Fire Department.

Transportation Accidents

MSU has two major railroads that cross the campus.  Rail traffic often approaches 60 trains in a 24 hour period.  Many of these transport hazardous materials in very large quantities.  There have been two rail accidents in the past 30+ years, both were minor and did not involve material releases.

The safest course of action when a train derailment occurs is to evacuate up wind of the accident for a great distance (a mile or more).

Aircraft approaching and departing from the Capitol City Airport are frequently directed over the campus.   While there has never been a major aircraft accident on the campus, persons should be alert for and avoid any accident scene.

Two major highways, US-127 and I-96 border the campus.  Many hazardous cargoes are transported on these roads.  A transportation accident could involve hazardous material that affects the safety of MSU.  The safest course of action when observing a transportation accident is to move away from the scene, up wind if possible.

Civil Disorder

Civil disorder and civil disruption have periodically erupted in the MSU/East Lansing area.  Police and Administrators in both jurisdictions have made extensive plans to prevent such occurrences.  When these events develop, persons in close proximity to the activity could be severely injured, even if they are not participating in the disorder activity.  The best course of action during a civil disorder, is to leave the area immediately.

Hazardous Material Spills

As a mentioned above, MSU has some 1300 laboratories.  The cutting edge research conducted here, often involves hazardous materials that if improperly handled could injure or kill.   The safest course of action if you encounter a hazardous materials spill, is to evacuate to a safe location.

Chemical safety is the responsibility of the MSU Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Office.

Criminal Activity

General criminal activity is low on the MSU campus, however, sometimes serious crimes do occur.  Campus community members can help protect themselves by limiting risky behavior, avoiding substances that diminish the senses, and reporting suspicious activity.

Domestic terrorist groups have twice used their criminal methods in an attempt to disrupt MSU research.  Each attack has resulted in significant damage to property.  Fortunately, no injuries have occurred.

While there is no indication that International Terrorist have targeted MSU, the campus has spent a great deal of effort to remove any perceived vulnerabilities to such threats.

In this age of school violence, MSU has taken a number of steps to mitigate the chances for violence to erupt as well as to enhance to response to such an incident.

Read detailed information on our efforts to deter and respond to classroom violence


Behavioral Threat Assessment Team


Safety Guidelines for an Active Shooter Situation