Tornado Safety

During a tornado sighting or warning of a strong possibility of a tornado, the tornado horns will sound. Upon hearing this sound, all individuals, regardless of what they are doing, should immediately take shelter and remain in that sheltered area until they are advised by Security personnel or their Residence Hall Advisors to return to their activities.

A “Tornado Warning” will be accompanied by the rising and falling signal of the tornado horn. This signal will tell you a tornado has been sighted in our area, or extremely high winds are prominent, or funnel clouds have been sighted, or we are in the direct path of a tornado that is not yet visible.

A “Tornado Watch”, not signaled by a tornado siren or horn, means that conditions are favorable for a tornado to occur (the combination of temperature, warm and cold fronts, upper-level winds, etc.).

What to do in case of a tornado

  • If you are outside on foot or in a vehicle, seek shelter in the nearest building. Do not try to outrun the tornado with your vehicle.
  • Once in the building, proceed immediately to the lowest level of your building and assemble along an interior wall, well away from doors and windows. If a windowless room is not available, get underneath a table or similar structure.
  • Once against the protective wall, wait for further instructions.
  • Never go out of doors.
  • If you are not near a building, get into a hole, ravine, or ditch. Much of the danger during a tornado comes from flying debris, and being below ground level helps minimize this danger. In open country, lie flat in the nearest depression with your hands shielding your head. Be alert for flash floods.
  • In shopping centers, go to a designated shelter area (not to your parked car).
  • Mobile homes are particularly vulnerable during strong winds and should be evacuated when strong winds are forecast. The Utopia Park Office issues tornado safety guidelines to its residents.

What To Do When You See a Tornado While Driving (video)

Tornado Drills

You’ll hear the tornado siren at about 10:00 a.m. on the first Saturday of each month from April to October. These are county-wide tornado drills conducted by Jefferson County Civil Defense.

Lightning Safety

Be cautious during electrical storms. Avoid being in an open area such that you are the tallest object. Avoid carrying metal items. Don’t get too close to trees. If your car is struck by lightning, don’t touch the door handle. Simply sit still until the current has passed into the ground.

If you feel a tingling sensation or the hair rises on the back of your neck, you are in danger of being struck by lightning. Immediately crouch down on the balls of your feet and wrap your arms around your knees so that you present the smallest possible target.



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