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Safety Guide


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Tornadoes and other Severe Storms


A watch is the first alert issued by the National Weather Service when severe storms are possible in your area. This watch is issued when the conditions are favorable for the formation of a severe storm. Remain alert for approaching storms, however you may continue with your routine, or any other activities. Turn on a battery-operated radio to stay alert of any developments.

This warning is issued when a severe storm has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Go immediately underground to a basement or interior room (closet, hallway or bathroom).
Danger Signs of An Approaching Tornado:  
Dark, often greenish sky. Large hail. Large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating) Loud roar, similar to the sound of a freight train. Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air become very still.
Safety Procedures:  
  • If you are outside when a tornado approaches, if possible, get inside a building at once.  If you can’t get to shelter, lie in a ditch or low lying area.  Be aware of the potential for flying debris and flooding and stay away from glass, small buildings and fencing.
  • If you are in a vehicle, get out and into a building or if there is no time, lie in a ditch or other low lying area. 
  • Do not get under an overpass or bridge.  You are safer in a low, flat location.
  • The best protection is an underground shelter or basement, or a substantial steel-framed or reinforced concrete building. (If none is available take refuge in other parts as indicated below.)
  • In any facility always go to the lowest floor possible.
  • Stay out of rooms below large roof sections such as a gymnasium.
  • If your residence has no basement, take cover under heavy furniture on the ground floor in the center of the building, or in a small room on the ground floor that is away from outside walls and windows. (As a last resort, go outside to a nearby ditch, excavation, culvert, or ravine.)
  • The large brick buildings on campus are reinforced construction and should provide adequate shelter.
  • Consult with the building manager for a designated meeting place (such as an interior hallway on the lowest floor) during this or any other emergency.
  • If you are unable to evacuate or have limited mobility contact your RA, Housing Services or building manger to plan for special assistance.

Flood Procedures:

  • If a flood watch or warning occurs for the area you are in, move to higher ground immediately. Do not delay.
  • If a campus building begins to flood leave the building for a facility that is not flooding. Notify Campus Safety and Security 410-516-7777.
  • When traveling do not drive through flooded roadway. Remember a relatively small amount of running water can sweep your car downstream. The depth of the water is not always obvious.
  • If a vehicle stalls in water, leave the vehicle immediately and move to higher ground.
  • Be extra cautious when driving at night when it is more difficult to recognize flood signs or water depth.
  • During heavy rains or flood alerts, etc., do not park a vehicle near streams, rivers, or known flash flood areas.
  • Do not walk through or play in floodwater. Floodwater may contain toxic matter from sewage and other sources. If you must come into contact with floodwater wash with soap and clean water as soon as possible after the contact.

For additional information, see the American Red Cross Tornado Checklist.

Campus Safety & Security at Johns Hopkins University Emergency number: 410-516-7777