Natural Disasters

The following information is offered as a guideline to aid you in determining what action you should take in the event of severe weather.


Tornado WATCH: This means conditions are such that storms capable of producing a tornado may develop.

Tornado WARNING: This means that either a tornado has been sighted or it is highly probable that one will develop. A warning will be signaled by the storm warning sirens.

The TORNADO TAKE COVER SIGNAL is a 3 to 5 minute up-and-down wailing sound on the City of Shawnee storm sirens. This signal will be sounded on the large sirens located in the dormitory area on the main campus and those installed throughout the City of Shawnee. If the sirens sound again, it is further warning—NOT an all clear signal.

Dormitory alarms are sounded on campus by SGU Security during a Tornado Warning. All students are to go to the bottom level of their dormitory and gather in the hallways away from windows and entrances. Student Life members will assist in evacuations during alarms.

Security will give the “all clear” signal to Student Life and sheltered community members when the Tornado danger has passed.

Persons should seek IMMEDIATE shelter in a basement or lower floor, interior corridors, or interior rooms. If you are in an open-span area, such as a gymnasium, auditorium or warehouse, go to the wall farthest from windows or glass, crouch down against the wall, and protect your head with your arms. STAY AWAY from windows and exterior doors. If caught outside a building, lie flat on the ground, face down, preferably in a ditch or depression, but be alert for flash floods.

Persons with disabilities and persons who are mobility-impaired must also make plans. If a power outage occurs during severe weather, elevators may not work. Always go to an interior room or closet.

NOTE: The storm sirens are tested at noon on the first Wednesday of each month.


If an earthquake should occur:
• Drop, cover and Hold On. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and if you are indoors, stay there until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.

If Indoors:
• 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 there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
• Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
• Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
• Do not use a doorway except if you know it is a strongly supported, load-bearing doorway and it is close to you. Many inside doorways are lightly constructed and do not offer protection.
• Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Do not exit a building during the shaking. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
• DO NOT use the elevators.
• Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.

If Outdoors:
• Stay there.
• Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
• Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls. Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.

If in a Moving Vehicle:
• Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
• Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.

If Trapped Under Debris:
• Do not light a match.
• Do not move about or kick up dust.
• Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
• Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.