Severe Weather Emergency Response Procedures

A natural disaster includes tornados, floods, mudslides, earthquakes, or severe weather (such as hail, lightning, extended snow, and thunderstorms) that results in property damage or serious risk of injury.  Weather related emergencies might result in disruption of services or personal risk.

PROCEDURES

Whenever possible, multiple means of communication shall be used to notify individuals on campus of pending emergency conditions.  These methods include, but are not limited to, telephone notification, e-mail, radio announcements, face-to-face, or building announcing systems (where available).

  • 255-3346 is the information line for weather related campus closures.  Due to the nature of natural disasters, advance notification is not always feasible.  Individual safety is most critical; equipment, materials and property can normally be recovered, repaired or replaced after the emergency has passed.  In the event of extreme weather conditions, a mechanical system failure or some other condition that prevents the safe operation of the campus, classes may be canceled or delayed.  Every attempt will be made to announce this decision no later than 6:00 a.m. for day classes and 3:00 p.m. for evening classes, in accordance with current policies and established procedures.

SEVERE WEATHER

  • A Severe Weather Watch is issued when there is a possibility of storms within the next six hours.
  • A Severe Weather Warning is issued to provide an alert to an expected or impending event within two hours.  Updated weather service forecasts are provided to radio and television stations.
  • Severe thunderstorms are often accompanied by high winds and lightning that can damage trees and buildings, and bring down electric or telephone wires.
Severe weather emergencies include:  blizzard, flood, hail, lightning, natural disaster, snow, thunderstorm, and tornado.This is not intended as an exhaustive listing, but provides overall guidance that can be extended to any weather emergency or natural disaster.


SNOW

The primary premise for weather-related closing of the campus is that it will remain open unless there is unreasonable risk or danger to a substantial number of students and employees due to unreasonably hazardous driving conditions within a reasonable distance from the campus.  While utmost consideration is given to conditions for travel, the campus continues to function during inclement weather.

Severe winter storms, accompanied by winds, blowing or falling snow, and low temperatures, must be treated with caution.  "White-outs" can create very dangerous driving conditions, and can start suddenly.  Winds and ice can also cause power failure, which may last some time.  As much as possible, you should try to remain inside during severe winter storms.  If you must go out, dress warmly.

Regularly scheduled classes continue to meet to the extent that students and employees are able to travel to campus and attend classes and the ability of the university to provide campus transportation services.  Individuals should be advised to use good judgment and avoid serious risks in traveling to campus or in attending classes.  Administrative functions on campus continue to the extent that employees are able to travel to campus and conduct business on campus.

Given the range of institutional programs, the number of essential services provided, and the continuing needs of resident students, the university will remain open in all but the most extreme circumstances.  However, all university employees and students are urged to use their own discretion in deciding whether they can safely commute to class or to work.  If personal health or safety is at issue in that decision, responsible judgment should be used.


LIGHTNING

In the event of a thunderstorm, individuals should remain indoors and away from exterior walls and windows until the storm has passed.  Computer systems and other sensitive electronic equipment should be turned off (if operations permit) and individuals should refrain from using the telephone.

Personal lightning safety tips:
  • Plan in advance your evacuation and safety measures.  When you first see lightning or hear thunder, activate your emergency plan. Now is the time to go to a building or a vehicle.  Lightning often precedes rain; don't wait for the rain to begin before suspending activities.
  • Outdoors:  Avoid water.  Avoid high ground. Avoid open spaces. Avoid all metal objects including electric wires, fences, machinery, motors, power tools, etc.  Unsafe places include canopies, small shelters, or trees. Where possible, find shelter in a substantial building or in a fully enclosed metal vehicle such as a car, truck or a van with the windows completely shut.
  • If lightning is striking nearby when you are outside, especially if your hair begins to stand on one end or you feel "tingly," you should:
    • Put your feet together and place your hands over your ears to minimize hearing damage:  become "a basketball with legs."
    • Avoid proximity (minimum of 15 feet) to other people.
  • Indoors:  Avoid water.  Stay away from doors and windows.  Do not use the telephone. Take off headsets.  Turn off, unplug, and stay away from appliances, computers, power tools, and television sets.  Lightning may strike exterior electric and phone lines, and transmit to inside equipment.
    • Suspend activities for 30 minutes after the last observed lightning or thunder.
    • Injured persons do not carry an electrical charge and can be handled safely.  Administer first aid to a lightning victim if you are qualified to do so.

If the injured person is on campus, contact Public Safety at ext. 3111 or 255-3111.

How far away is the lightning?  (Note:  Any time you see lightning or hear thunder you are in danger.  If you see lightning first take shelter and from a safe place estimate how far away the lightning is).  Thunder travels about a mile in five seconds.  If 15 seconds elapse between seeing lightning and hearing thunder, the lightning was about three miles away -- a warning to take shelter immediately.  Successive lightning strikes are often two to three miles apart.  If the first strike is three miles away, the next one could hit you.


TORNADO

In the event of a tornado, all occupants must move to a safe area within the building.  Go to an interior room, but never to an inside corner -- flying debris collects in corners when a structure is breeched.

Tornado watch vs. tornado warning:
  • A tornado watch means conditions are right for a tornado to form.  Keep apprised of weather conditions and be ready to take shelter.
  • A tornado warning means that a funnel cloud or tornado has been spotted in the area.  Take shelter immediately in case the tornado approaches your location.

Tornado announcement:
If possible, in the event of a tornado an announcement will be sounded.  Sample announcement:  "A tornado emergency exists-proceed to your safe area."  Searchers will proceed through their areas, ensuring all employees have evacuated.

[To the Emergency Planner: Determine in advance how employees will be notified in your facility]


Duties of employees:
The duties of the Emergency Coordinator, Stairwell/Floor Monitors, Searchers and all employees are basically the same as they are in a general evacuation.  But instead of leaving the building, occupants will go to the closest designated safe areas.  (Areas below ground level are preferred.)

Safe Areas:
All employees must be aware there is no such thing as a safe area in the event of a tornado.  However, there are safer areas within any building:  generally lower floors and interior rooms without windows, preferably near structural members.


FLOOD

Flood threats in the vicinity of UCCS are primarily related to flash flooding from the neighboring bluffs and arroyos, and adjacent to paved parking areas that provide floodwater detention.  Hail may also clog storm drains and result in localized "flooding" of adjacent buildings.

If your area is flooded contact Physical Plant to cut off the electricity and other utilities to an area.  Do not attempt to do so yourself.  A qualified electrician should check flooded electrical equipment before being used again.  Special precautions should also be taken to safeguard electrical, gas, propane, or oil heating equipment.  If there is sufficient time, consult your supplier for recommended protective measures.  If your heating equipment has been flooded, have it checked by Physical Plant before you attempt to put it back into service.

Report the following to the Physical Plant Department:
  • Loose or dangling electrical wires.
  • Dangling tree limbs, and buildings, which have been weakened by the storm.
  • Also, report broken water mains and broken or clogged sewer lines and storm drains.


REPORTING

After contacting Public Safety, and after meeting with the University Police, contact your supervisor.