University of Vermont

Department of Risk Management & Safety

Severe Weather

In case of severe weather:

  • Stay alert to UVM CatAlert notifications for instructions
  • Stay tuned to weather broadcasts and radio reports
  • Do not attempt to drive on unsafe roads.
  • Stay Informed!

Prepare For Winter Weather

Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify winter weather:

  • Freezing Rain creates a coating of ice on roads and walkways.
  • Sleet is rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes roads to freeze and become slippery.
  • Winter Weather Advisory means cold, ice and snow are expected.
  • Winter Storm Watch means severe weather such as heavy snow or ice is possible in the next day or two.
  • Winter Storm Warning means severe winter conditions have begun or will begin very soon.
  • Blizzard Warning means heavy snow and strong winds will produce a blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts and life-threatening wind chill.
  • Frost/Freeze Warning means below freezing temperatures are expected.

Severe Thunderstorms and Lightning

The 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule:

During thunderstorms no place outside is safe but you can minimize your risk by assessing the lightning threat and taking the appropriate actions.

Count the number of seconds from when you see the lightning flash until you hear the thunder. If you count 30 seconds or less you are in immediate danger. Even if you can't see the lightning, just hearing the thunder means lightning is likely within striking range.

If you are caught outdoors in a severe thunderstorm or when lightning threatens:

    • 1. Immediately seek shelter in a substantial building.
      • a. DO NOT seek shelter under trees during thunderstorms.
      • b. DO NOT seek shelter in unprotected open structures such as picnic pavilions, rain shelters or bus stops.
      • c. If a substantial building is not available, a metal-topped vehicle with the windows up is your next best choice.
    • 2. Avoid contact with metal fences, metal bleachers, or metallic structures.
    • 3. Avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances. Use phones ONLY in an emergency.
    • 4. Do not take a bath or shower during a thunderstorm.
    • 5. Wait 30 minutes or more after hearing the last thunder before leaving the safe location

    If Caught Outdoors and No Shelter Is Nearby:

    • 1. Find a low spot away from trees, fences, and poles that is not subject to flooding.
    • 2. If you feel your skin tingle or your hair stand on end, squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees. Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact with the ground. DO NOT lie down. If you are swimming, get out of the water immediately.

    REMEMBER: If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning.

    Once you have taken shelter indoors, you should monitor a weather radio, commercial radio/television station, internet or other weather service provider. Even when a specific storm cell has passed beyond the area, conditions may still be right for high winds, lightning, and other hazardous weather conditions.

    To contact the UVM Police Services in an emergency:

    • Call 911 from any campus phone.
    • Call (802) 656-3473 (FIRE) from any other phone.


    If you receive a CatAlert notification that a tornado may be approaching campus:

    • 1. Immediately seek shelter in the closest substantial building.
    • 2. Never try to outrun a tornado. If you cannot seek shelter in a building, lie in a ditch or low-lying area and cover your head and neck.
    Once you are indoors:
    • 1. Alert building occupants of the impending weather.
    • 2. Move quickly to a safe area indoors such as an interior hallway or an interior room away from windows.
    • a. Basements, which are often recommended for shelter in private residences, may not be practical for high rise buildings or some campus facilities.
    • b. Stay away from windows, doors and exterior walls.
    • c. Close all doors leading to exterior rooms.
    3. Once you are indoors, stay indoors until the threat has passed.  To determine when the threat has passed, monitor a weather radio, commercial radio/television station, Internet or other weather service.  Even when a specific storm cell has passed beyond the area, conditions may still be right for high winds, lightning, and other hazardous weather conditions. If you are in a classroom or meeting area:
    • 1. The instructor or staff member should direct occupants to the nearest interior hallways and interior rooms away from windows.
    • 2. Monitor your weather radio, television, or other weather service provider for additional information.
    If someone is injured or there is damage caused by the weather, notify UVM Police Services:
    • 1. Notify UVM Police of the location and nature of injury or damage.
    • 2. Exit a building that smells of natural gas or chemical fumes.
    • 3. Do not tour damaged areas.
    • 4. Do not go into damaged buildings.
    • 5. If you must be outdoors, watch for downed power lines and for possible falling debris.
    • 6. Use the telephone only to report emergencies.
    • 7. Monitor radio and television for reports and guidance.
    • 8. Assist special needs persons.
    To contact the UVM Police Services in an emergency:
    • Call 911 from any campus phone.
    • Call (802) 656-3473 (FIRE) from any other phone.


    Earthquakes strike suddenly, violently, and without warning. The majority of earthquake-related injuries result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.

    If indoors:

    • 1. Stay away from windows.
    • 2. DO NOT stand in a doorway.
    • 3. DO NOT use the elevators.
    • 4. DO NOT run for the exits or attempt to leave the building. Most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location or exit the building.
    • 5. Protect yourself from falling objects such as light fixtures, books, and shelves.
    • 6. DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If no tables or desks are near, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
    • 7. In laboratories, extinguish all flames (if possible) before taking cover. Stay clear of areas with large quantities of hazardous materials.

    If outside:

    • 1. Move away from structures, power lines or other possible hazards.
    • 2. Lie down or crouch low to the ground (legs will not be steady).
    • 3. Keep looking around to be aware of dangers, which may demand immediate movement.
    When the shaking stops:
    • 1. Check for injuries to personnel in your area. DO NOT attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger.
    • 2. Check the area for safety hazards such as building damage, fires, chemical spills, or gas leaks.
    • 3. Exit the building and go to your designated assembly area.  Stay at least 500 feet away from the affected building or other hazards. Keep streets, fire lanes, and walkways clear for emergency vehicles and crews.
    • 4. Take roll and report missing persons, injuries, damages and/or potentially hazardous conditions to building manager or designated point of contact.
    • 5. Supervisors and designated points of contact should contact UVM Police Service to report any immediate emergencies.
    • 6. Once you have exited the building, DO NOT re-enter the building until the building has been inspected by trained emergency personnel.
    • 7. Use the telephone system only for urgent matters.
    To contact UVM Police Services in an emergency:
    • Call 911 from any campus phone.
    • Call (802) 656-3473 (FIRE) from any other phone.

Last modified February 04 2010 01:28 PM

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