Severe Weather Preparation – Precious Seconds Count!

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Severe Weather Preparation – Precious Seconds Count!

Severe Weather Preparation – Precious Seconds Count!

Every school has an emergency weather plan – educators take the threat very seriously. Here’s a list of valuable reminders provided by experts from the “Tornado Alley” states like Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri. Most are obvious, but others may come as a surprise. When severe weather strikes, there may be very little time to act. Knowing the right things to do can save lives. Share these tips with new staff members to ensure the best possible outcome when threatened by severe weather. 


  • Learn where all the designated shelter areas are in your building
  • Generally, they are interior hallways and rooms on the lowest level, away from glass windows 
  • Do Not shelter in rooms with large ceiling spans like the Gym, Auditorium, or Cafeteria
  • Evacuate portable classrooms immediately to the main building
  • Small interior rooms like offices and bathrooms typically offer the best protection 
  • Avoid classrooms with outside windows, and locations near glass entrance doorways
  • Avoid rooms with skylights
  • Do Not open window or doors
  • Do you have enough space in the designated shelter areas for all your students and staff?  Consult with your fire department or county Emergency Management Agency if you have concerns. 


  • You have to move everyone to a designated shelter area very quickly
  • Pick a shelter area you can reach with your students within three minutes 
  • If you cannot get students on upper floors to the ground floor quickly, identify nearby interior rooms on upper floors away from windows. Consult with a building engineer to ensure these areas are structurally safe
  • Make plans for special needs students
  • Include plans for school bus drivers while at school or during transportation


  • Review and Practice your severe weather action plan often.
  • Lead students to designated safe areas in a calm, orderly and firm manner
  • Everyone should then crouch low, head down, protecting the back of the head with arms
  • Every school should have an NOAA Weather Radio (Torrence can help you select a radio if you don’t already have one)
  • Test your emergency notification systems monthly
  • Severe weather warnings should have a unique alert tone
  • Studies prove spoken announcements are the most effective way to get attention
  • Pre-recorded paging announcements, digital message boards, and automated text messages can provide clear, unemotional directions to occupants to minimize panic.

Use these links for more detailed information:

Areas of Refuge Guide: fema_p_431

Torrence designs and installs Paging / Mass Notification systems, Automated Paging Announcements, and Emergency Messaging systems specifically tailored for Education.  Contact us for a free onsite consultation and quote.

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