Weather-Related Emergencies (SAFE Campus)


If you are outdoors when a thunderstorm occurs:

  • If you count fewer than 30 seconds between a lightning flash and the thunderclap, look around for shelter.  If you count fewer than 5 seconds, take shelter urgently. 
  • Preference for shelter is in a building; failing that, in a depressed area such as a ditch or a culvert, but never under a tree. If swimming or in a boat, get back to shore immediately.
  • Do not ride bicycles, motorcycles, golf carts or tractors or use metal shovels or implements.
  • If caught in the open, do not lie flat, but crouch in the leap frog position and lower your head. 
  • If you are in a vehicle, stay there but pull away from trees where heavy branches might fall on you.

High Wind Events / Tornadoes.

Should a high wind event or tornado occur in conjunction with a thunderstorm:

  • Take shelter in an inner hallway or room, ideally in the basement or ground floor. Failing that, take shelter under a heavy table or desk. 
  • Do not use the elevator, and stay away from windows. 
  • If you are outdoors, take shelter in a building with a strong foundation — not in a vehicle or mobile trailer. 
  • If no shelter is available, lie down in a ditch away from vehicles or trailers.  Beware of flooding from downpours; be prepared to move.
  • If you are driving and spot a tornado, try to get to a nearby shelter.  If the tornado is close by, get out of your car and take cover in a low-lying area.  Get as close to the ground as possible, protect your head and watch out for flying debris.

Winter Storms.

If your car gets stuck in a blizzard or snow storm:

  • Remain calm; stay in your car. For fresh air, open a window slightly on the sheltered side, away from the wind.
  • If your exhaust system is working well, run your car engine about 10 minutes every half hour. Check the exhaust pipe periodically to ensure that it is not blocked with snow.
  • Exercise your hands and feet to keep them warm. In general, keep moving to avoid falling asleep. If you do try to shovel the snow from around the vehicle, avoid over-exerting yourself.