Berkeley Lab

Emergency Preparedness

This page is especially recommended for new employees, guests and students, particularly those who are new to California as well as the Lab. We encourage everyone to explore these resources and learn how to “Prepare Before — Survive During — Recover After.”

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Prompt, meaningful information is precious in an emergency. Opt in for text messages to your mobile phone at

Something has happened — should you attempt to come to the Lab? You can call, toll free, 1.800.445.5830 (1-800-HILL-830) for information about the status of LBNL. Or check

Many cities and counties have comparable emergency alert systems of their own; please consider signing up for the ones most applicable to your location and lifestyle.

Photo of helicopter with water bucket attacking wildlands fire

Wildlands Fire: Are You At Risk?* Are You Ready?

LBNL Fire Marshal Todd LaBerge, PE, and Senior Fire Protection Engineer Nick Bartlett, PE, of the Lab’s Protective Services Department offered a seminar on wildlands fire in summer 2018; video is available.

Northern California’s fire season, traditionally at its worst in summer through fall, has lengthened and worsened and is really best thought of as a year-round danger now. We must remain aware of fire safety, and report any fires or smokes that we see, at any time of year.

Prepare to Protect and Survive

homewildfire_150x143yIf you live in a vulnerable area, clear defensible space and remove light fuels.

Cal Fire’s Ready, Set Go program is an excellent resource, as is the National Fire Protection Associations Firewise USA. The University of California has peer-reviewed advice on how to prepare your home and landscape for greater fire safety.

See also the Association of Bay Area Governments website and the Diablo FireSafe Council.

* “Are you at risk” is a trick question . . .
The LBNL site is in a vulnerable area (in 1923, a conflagration moved down what was then an empty hillside where the Lab now stands, and was stopped just short of the campus — not by the puny hand of man so much as by the Diablo winds’ giving way to onshore flow). Many of us also commute through areas that can be affected by wildfires. When fire danger reaches red-flag levels, “hot work” is likely to be suspended, and other bulletins will be issued and precautions put in place as appropriate.

Those who lived and worked in these hills in 1991 — or 1970 — need little reminder…


Earthquakes: Not If — When

The Hayward Fault runs between the Lab and campus (it actually goes through Memorial Stadium). Seismologists estimate that there is more than a 60% chance of a damaging earthquake striking our region in the next 30 years. The Lab takes extensive quake-preparedness measures, and prudent employees keep individual supplies in their work areas and cars.

Drop, Cover, and Hold On illustrationIn the event of a quake, drop, cover, and hold on. When the shaking stops, grab essential personal items and find a safe route to the evacuation area outside your building. Do not re-enter the building until cleared to do so by safety officials. Hazardous conditions might exist, and there could be aftershocks.

Please take a moment to view this new LBNL video about how to prepare for and respond to an earthquake.

Earthquake preparedness also explains a lot about our furniture choices (bookshelves with lips or retention chains, file cabinets bolted to the walls, etc.) and office-housekeeping standards (don’t store heavy objects on high shelves; keep the area under your desk clear so you can take shelter there; and avoid storing anything in a way that would block your escape route).

To help you be prepared at work, at home, and in the car, resources are available from the Earthquake Country Alliance (a suggested first thing to read is Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country), which they repost from the US Geological Survey). Another useful source of readiness tips for all kinds of disasters and setbacks is SF72 (named after the minimum amount of time in hours you should be prepared to survive any form of widespread disaster, anywhere, before help arrives).

Picture of doe and fawn

Co-Existing with Creatures

Californians can take pride in the environmental stewardship that allows wildlife to flourish close to urban areas. The LBNL site is an attractive home for animals, and also is near or adjacent to large areas of open space with various degrees of wildness.

Deer, turkey, skunks, opossums, raccoons, and even a rattlesnake or two are found here… and with all that prey, at least one mountain lion has been known to drop by for dinner. Keep an eye out for them when on foot (especially around dawn or dusk) and when driving.

One of our smaller wild creatures — the tick — is yet another reason (besides falling and the risk of causing erosion in the rainy season) to stay on the walkways rather than taking hillside shortcuts.

Wait… mountain lion?

Picture of a mountain lion It’s a fact, not a scare story nor an urban-wildlands-interface legend, that at least one mountain lion (also known as cougar or puma) prowls these hills and sometimes hunts on the Lab site.

Here is information on how to minimize the chance of encountering the big cat and what to do if it happens anyway.