Emergency Preparedeness

What to do in the event of a TORNADO / SEVERE WEATHER

NOTE: All employees should refer to the Severe Weather/Tornado Response Procedure, # EP-08-002, for tornado response protocols for their respective areas. EP-08-002 Appendix A in the procedure outlines where tornado safe waiting areas are located. 

TORNADOES

The following are the specific, University-sanctioned steps a person should take in the event of a tornado watch or warning.:

Tornado WATCH: Weather conditions are favorable for a tornado to develop. In the event of a tornado WATCH, you should:

  • Be alert for approaching storms.
  • Listen for the activation of the county-wide emergency sirens, which indicate the weather situation is worsening.
  • Continue with classes, exams, and Universtiy business/operations in the absence of siren activation.

Tornado WARNING: A tornado or funnel cloud has been sighted, or is indicated on weather radar. The county-wide emergency sirens will be activated (the sirens sounds with a stead tone for 3 minutes) when a warning is issued. In the event of a tornado WARNING, University policy requires the following:

  • Instructors will immediately stop any classes or exams that are taking place and will direct all students to the appropriate tornado safe waiting area.
  • Normal University business/operations will cease.
  • Employees will go to the tornado safe waiting area in whichever building they are in at the time of the siren activation.
  • Gymnasiums and auditoriums should be evacuated. They are not acceptable safe waiting areas during a tornado.
  • In addition to the designated tornado safe waiting areas, ground or basement level interior hallways with no windows to the outside are also acceptable safe waiting areas in a tornado.
  • Faculty, staff, and students should remain in the protected area until the tornado or severe weather has passed and they have received an all clear via the local media, UT Police, or other means. At that point, classes and normal University busines/operations will resume as permitted by the impact of the severe weather.

 

THUNDERSTORMS

What to do in the event of a severe thunderstorm:

Some thunderstorms can be seen approaching, while others hit without warning. It is important to learn and recognize the danger signs and to plan ahead.

Before the storm hits:

  • Listen to a battery operated radio or television for the latest storm information.
  • Do not handle any electrical equipment or telephones because lightning could follow the wire. Television sets are particularly dangerous at this time.
  • Avoid bathtubs, water faucets, and sinks because metal pipes can transmit electricity.

Estimating the distance from a thunderstorm:

Because light travels much faster than sound, lightning flashes can be seen long before the resulting thunder is heard. Estimate the number of miles you are from a thunderstorm by counting the number of seconds between a flash of lightning and the next clap of thunder. Divide this number by five.

 

Important: You are in danger from lightning if you can hear thunder. 
Knowing how far away a storm is does not mean 
that you are in danger only when the storm is overhead.

Hail:

Hail is produced by many strong thunderstorms. Hail can be smaller than a pea or as large as a softball and can be very destructive. In a hailstorm, take cover immediately.

 

WINTER STORMS

Protect yourself:

  • Dress warmly. Wear loose-fitting, layered, light-weight clothing. Layers can be removed to prevent perspiration and chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellant. Mittens are warmer than gloves because fingers generate warmth when they touch each other.
  • Cover your mouth. Protect your lungs from extremely cold air by covering your mouth when outdoors. Try not to speak unless absolutely necessary.
  • Avoid overexertion. Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unaccustomed exercise such as shoveling snow or pushing a car can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse. Be aware of symptoms of dehydration.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.

Frostbite and Hypothermia:

Frostbite is a severe reaction to cold exposure that can permanently damage its victims. A loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, or nose and ear lobes are symptoms of frostbite. Hypothermia is a condition brought on when the body temperature drops to less than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, slow speech, memory lapses, frequent stumbling, drowsiness, and exhaustion.

Iffrostbite or hypothermia is suspected, begin warming the person slowly and seek immediate medical assistance. Warm the person's trunk first. Use your own body heat to help. Arms and legs should be warmed last because stimulation of the limbs can drive cold blood toward the heart and lead to heart failure. Put person in dry clothing and wrap their entire body in a blanket.

Never give a frostbite or hypothermia victim something with caffeine in it (like coffee or tea) or alcohol. Caffeine, a stimulant, can cause the heart to beat faster and hasten the effects the cold has on the body. Alcohol, a depressant, can slow the heart and also hasten the ill effects of cold body temperatures.

Last Updated: 3/22/15