Springtime is once again upon us. Although the warm weather is a welcome change, for many Midwestern states spring also means the return of severe weather. If you live in the Midwest, you were likely taught from a young age where to go in your house should a storm occur. But what about when you’re away at school? Here are a few tips for surviving sever weather at college.
Most college dorms are well equipped for severe weather. Dorm rooms typically have an alarm system installed with distinctive sounds for both fire and weather related emergencies. Also, much like hotels, you can usually find a map of the building with instructions about where to go if a tornado occurs. If not, ask your resident assistant or building manager where the safe space in the building is and the safest route to get there. A few things to keep in mind when living in dorms:
- You will occasionally have drills to practice evacuations. Even if you know it is a drill, you need to take the time to follow instructions and practice. Yes, it can be inconvenient when you are studying, but it is necessary to prepare.
- Always take your room key with you when the alarm goes off. Resident assistants may check rooms to make sure everyone evacuated. If you don’t have your keys, you may find yourself stuck outside if they lock the door behind them.
- Make sure you know where your roommates are during emergencies. If they are not in the building, text or call them to make sure they know to take cover from the severe weather.
Preparing for severe weather when living off campus is a little bit harder. It is your own responsibility to monitor the weather and know when it is time to head to the safe space. A great way to keep tabs on the weather is by purchasing a weather radio.
An NOAA weather radio links to the national weather monitoring systems and sets off an alarm if there is severe weather in your current location. The device plugs into a wall outlet, but in an emergency can run off battery power so that you can take it with you to your safe space. Weather radios are small, useful devices and are available at most all major retailers for about $25-$30. This item is a must if you live in severe weather prone areas.
A few other things to keep in mind when living off campus:
- Ask your building manager or landlord where the safe space for your apartment is at. If there is not a designated space, follow these guidelines for taking shelter.
- If you have to leave your apartment to get to your safe space, be sure to lock the door behind you. Take your key and wallet with you in case you need them.
- Your neighbors may not be as prepared as you during a severe weather emergency. If it is safe to do so, check on your neighbors to make sure they are aware of the severe weather threat and help them get to the safe space as well.
Severe weather can hit during any time of the day. You may occasionally find yourself in class when an emergency occurs. Like dorms, college academic buildings are usually very well equipped with alarms and labeled safe spaces. Your professor should know exactly where to go during an emergency so listen carefully for instructions and follow them promptly.
NOTE: Do not leave the group unless your instructor gives you permission. Most colleges require instructors to take attendance as a way to keep track of students during emergencies. If you are present for attendance and then split from the group during an emergency, your professor will be unable to locate you and could cause an unnecessary manhunt.
On the long list of things to prepare for in college, severe weather is one of the most important. However, it is also one of the most overlooked. With a little preparation you can be ready for any emergency. For more information about severe weather preparedness check out The National Weather Service’s website.