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Staying Prepared for Severe Weather

Staying Prepared for Severe Weather

Oklahoma’s severe weather season is upon us. Review these tips to help you stay informed and prepared.

Severe Weather Terminology:
Watch vs. Warning: Know the Difference

  • Watch = Be Prepared. A Severe Thunderstorm Watch or a Tornado Watch is issued when the conditions are present to create severe storms, typically within the next 6 hours. If a watch is issued, stay up-to-date with the weather situation in your area.  
  • Warning = Take Action. A Severe Thunderstorm Warning or a Tornado Warning is issued when severe weather is imminent or already occurring in your area. Stay indoors, and if a Tornado Warning is issued, seek immediate shelter.
  • Take immediate shelter if you receive an OU RAVE Tornado Alert.
    • An OU RAVE Tornado Alert text message will be sent if a tornado is expected to threaten the Norman campus.
    • Note: There may be occasions in which the City of Norman activates its outdoor warning sirens but an OU RAVE text message is not sent, as the city’s outdoor warning sirens cover a large geographic area that stretches miles away from campus. In these instances, make sure you are closely monitoring local weather reports.

Before severe weather hits, make a plan.

  • Identify your safe place at home and follow the “get in, get down, cover up” strategy: choose an interior room on the lowest floor, and use a helmet and/or blankets and pillows to protect yourself from possible debris.

Build a safety kit.

Have an emergency supply kit that includes bottled water, a first aid kit, a battery-operated flashlight and radio, fully charged cell phone chargers, at least three days of non-perishable food items, blankets, clothing, prescription drugs, eyeglasses, personal hygiene supplies, identification, and insurance documentation.

Clean out your severe weather refuge areas.

  • Home refuge areas should be dusted and cleaned, and their entrances should be unobstructed and properly working.
  • Make sure floor space is clear and items such as blankets, pillows, helmets, shoes, safety kit, and other safety items are easily accessible.
  • If you spray your storm refuge area or safe room for bugs and insects, make sure it is properly ventilated before using it.

Have multiple ways of receiving weather information.

  • At least one method should work without electric power and without a cellular or Wi-Fi signal, such as a battery-operated weather radio.
  • Never rely solely on outdoor warning sirens. The sirens are operated by the City of Norman and can only usually be heard if you are outdoors.
  • Stay informed of the latest weather forecast from the OU Department of Campus Safety, the National Weather Service, local media, and university communications. If you use social media, make sure you are following OU Emergency Preparedness on Twitter and Facebook.

Shelter in place.

  • “Shelter in place” means to take shelter in the building you are in when the warning is issued. OU campus residence halls have available shelters for those who live on campus. If you are working on campus at the time of the warning, go immediately to the severe weather refuge area in the building you are in. Maps are available in each building, and the locations on the Norman campus are also listed here.
  • If you do not live on campus, seek refuge at home unless you are already on campus when the warning is issued. OU campus buildings are not public storm shelters, as room is only available for on-campus students, staff, and faculty.
  • Do not drive during a storm, and never seek shelter underneath a bridge or overpass.
  • Always check the weather before you venture outside. If you happen to be outside when the warning is issued, quickly move to the nearest building and seek refuge inside.

Verify your OU emergency contact information for OU RAVE Alerts.

Emergency contact information currently on record for all OU students, faculty, and staff has been pre-loaded into RAVE. To update or to verify your emergency contact information, please use these campus-specific links:

  • Norman Faculty/Staff/Students -
  • HSC Faculty/Staff/Students -
  • Tulsa - Use the appropriate link for your campus program

COVID-19 Precautions: Practicing social distancing and preventing the spread of COVID-19 bring added complications to taking shelter from severe weather. However, your top priority should be to protect yourself from a potential tornado. Wherever you choose to take shelter, take as many precautions as possible to inhibit the spread of COVID-19, including wearing a cloth face covering and maintaining social distancing.

More Information: For more information about severe weather preparation, visit the OU Department of Campus Safety website.

Article Published:  Wednesday, April 21, 2021