Campus Event Safety

Event organizers, sponsors and hosts have a responsibility to take health and safety measures for events that occur at a University location.


This event safety guidance applies to in-person gatherings that:

  • Are temporary and time-limited; and
  • Occur at a University of Washington owned or operated location; and
  • Are hosted, sponsored, or organized by a University unit, department or registered student organization; or
  • Are hosted by a non-UW individual or entity and has UW community members in attendance.

This guidance applies to both indoor and outdoor events at a University location.

Event safety checklist

Complete these items to ensure you’ve taken steps to prepare for a safe and healthy event.

  1. Apply for a fire department permit (if required) at least 30 days prior to the event.
  2. Apply for a permit to serve food (if required) at least 14 days prior to the event.
  3. Notify EH&S of activities that could pollute stormwater.
  4. Assign a person who is responsible for safety.
  5. Prepare for emergencies.
  6. Follow the space planning guidance.
  7. Communicate health and safety expectations to attendees, volunteers and staff.
  8. Acquire cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer.
  9. Plan for waste containment and disposal.
  10. Prepare signs to promote health and safety.

Permits and approvals

Fire department permit

Review the Fire Department Event Permit Flowchart to determine whether you need a permit from your local fire department. Permits may be needed for temporary assembly occupancy; use of tents, canopies, or air-supported structures; use of candles or other open flame devices, flammable or combustible liquids or gases, such as displays or performances that include flame effects or pyrotechnics.

Visit the Fire Department Permits for Events webpage for more information.

Temporary Food Service Permit

Review the Temporary Food Service Permits webpage to determine whether you need a permit to serve food at your event and for additional information.

Pollution prevention

Notify EH&S of any activity that could pollute stormwater such as spilling or releasing paint, confetti, glitter, powdered pigments, oil/grease, soaps/cleaners, wastewater or food waste.

Approval for use of University facilities

You may need to obtain approval to use University facilities (UUF).

Prepare for an emergency

Event organizers, sponsors and hosts should be prepared to respond in an emergency.

First aid kit

Bring a first aid kit to the event or know where the nearest first aid kit is located.

Plan for an evacuation

If your event is indoors, find the nearest evacuation map, typically posted on each floor of every University building.

  • Note exit routes.
  • Note the evacuation assembly area (the location where people gather after evacuating).
  • Note if the building has an area of refuge or evacuation waiting area (a location inside the building where a person can remain during an emergency if they are unable to evacuate).

Review the ​Faculty Preparedness in the Classroom webpage to prepare for an emergency evacuation.

Sign up for UW Alerts to ensure you get notified if an emergency occurs.

If an emergency occurs during the event that requires evacuation:

  • Direct staff, volunteers and attendees to respond to building alarms and emergencies.
  • Note any individual(s) with disabilities and/or conditions that may prevent evacuation. Notify emergency responders of the location of any individual who was not able to evacuate.

Do not block campus fire lanes

When 9-1-1 is called on the Seattle campus, UW Police and Seattle Fire Department emergency vehicles will use designated fire lanes to get to the scene of the emergency quickly. It is critical that campus fire lanes are kept clear at all times to avoid emergency responders losing time getting to someone who needs help.

Campus fire lanes are not always marked; some fire lanes may not be obvious because they also serve as major pedestrian paths. Check the UW Emergency Responders Map (requires a UWNetID) before your next event to ensure the path of police and fire vehicles is not blocked.

Public health precautions

University event organizers and venue operators are encouraged to implement the below best practices to help support healthy and successful in-person events.

Space planning

  • Consider selecting larger spaces that are well ventilated and have room for people to distance if they wish.
  • Organize food service to support foot traffic flow (e.g., multiple food distribution and/or dish drop-off locations at gatherings where food is served).
  • Optimize indoor venue ventilation by opening windows or maximizing fresh air/air filtration settings on HVAC systems as possible.
  • Support good hand hygiene. Choose an event location with handwashing facilities, especially if food will be served.

Event communications

  • Inform all event attendees, including vendors, personnel and volunteers, to stay home if they are sick (including if they have COVID-19 symptoms),  or if they have tested positive for COVID -19 and have not finished their COVID-19 isolation period.
  • Remind UW students and personnel to follow guidance in the UW COVID-19 Public Health Flowchart.
  • Encourage COVID-19 testing prior to attending the event (especially for indoor events). Testing within 72 hours of an event is recommended if using a PCR test, testing day of the event is recommended if using a rapid antigen test. Testing 3 to 5 days after attending an event is also encouraged. 
  • Encourage all attendees to follow signage (where posted) at building entrances communicating UW policies.


  • Have hand sanitizing supplies available.
  • Communicate good hygiene practices verbally and with signage. Advise covering coughs and sneezes, and immediately disposing of used tissues.
  • Plan for event waste containment and disposal. Ensure the venue is cleaned by building custodians after the event.
  • Have cleaning supplies available at the event to address visibly unclean surfaces or spills if needed.
  • Protect unpackaged event food by using barriers to reduce potential for contamination (e.g., covers, serving utensils, deli papers, sneeze guards); Clean or replace shared serving utensils frequently.

Frequently asked question


Environmental Health & Safety Contact

(206) 543-7262