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During a Tornado

When there is a tornado warning or you see one, take shelter immediately!

A tornado WARNING means not just that severe weather is likely but also that a tornado has actually been spotted nearby. Find and stay in a safe place right away.

  • REMAIN CALM. AVOID PANIC. There is no guaranteed safe place during a tornado, but you will minimize your exposure by finding shelter in the best possible location.
  • AREAS TO SEEK – rooms and corridors in the innermost part of a building at the lowest level possible. Close all doors, including main corridors insofar as possible. Crouch near the floor or under heavy, well-supported objects and cover your head.
  • AREAS TO AVOID – stay clear of windows, corridors with windows, or large free-standing expanses, such as auditoriums and cafeterias. DO NOT use elevators during a tornado warning.

If you hear about an official warning

When the National Weather Service issues an official tornado warning, the University will activate the outdoor warning system and broadcast an Alert. If you hear it or otherwise know a tornado warning is in effect, immediately take shelter.

Do not wait until you see the tornado. Resist the temptation to go outside and check conditions for yourself. If you know of others in the building and severe weather warnings are issued; spread the word.

  • Be mindful of workmates, family or friends who may be hearing impaired or those who may not hear tornado warnings because they are sleeping, watching TV or listening to music.
  • NEVER pull a fire alarm during a tornado warning unless there is a fire. Otherwise, people may flee a relatively safe building and expose themselves to blowing debris.

The safest place to be is an underground shelter, basement, or designated safe room. If no underground shelter or safe room is available, a small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is the safest alternative.

  • Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes or other severe winds.
  • Do not seek shelter in a hallway or bathroom of a mobile home.
  • If you have access to a sturdy shelter or a vehicle, abandon your mobile home immediately.
  • Go to the nearest sturdy building or shelter immediately, using your seat belt if driving.

If you are caught outdoors

Seek shelter in a basement, shelter, or sturdy building. If you cannot quickly walk to a shelter:

  • Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
  • If flying debris occurs while you are driving, pull over and park. Now you have the following options as a last resort:
  • Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible.
  • If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.
  • Your choice should be driven by your specific circumstances.
If you are in: Then:
A structure (e.g. residence, small building, school, nursing home, hospital, factory, shopping center, high-rise building) Go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck. Do not open windows.
A vehicle, trailer, or mobile home Get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes.
The outside with no shelter

Lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Be aware of the potential for flooding.

Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.

Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.

Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.

For more information on tornadoes, see: