Severe weather safety


funnel cloud above building

The City of Richmond has a city-wide warning system for severe weather. Outdoor sirens will sound when a tornado has been reported within the area (sirens are only designed to be heard outdoors and occupants of buildings should NOT rely on them as their primary weather warning).

Severe weather includes severe thunderstorms, high winds, large hail or tornados. Severe weather watches and warnings are issued by the National Weather Service.

  •  A watch means conditions are favorable for the development of severe weather
  •  A warning is issued when severe storms are approaching our area
  • The Earlham Emergency Notification System will automatically send an alert upon a Tornado Warning being issued in the Richmond area

Severe weather watches and warning information may be received by monitoring weather alert radios, local television and radio broadcasts.

Alerts can also be received by subscribing to one of several free weather alert applications for email and text message notifications (i.e.,

  • When a severe weather watch is issued by the National Weather Service, develop an action plan of how and where to take shelter if a severe storm develops. See the table of recommended Storm Shelter locations. Communicate this plan to others in your area.
  • Continually monitor local weather conditions. Check the weather forecast before leaving for field trips or outdoor activities, and have a plan in place for safe shelter and communication if threatening conditions develop.
  • Consider preparing the following emergency supplies to take to the storm shelter: a weather alert radio or other battery operated radio, flashlight, keys, purse, backpack, cell phone, and a coat to provide protection from flying glass.
  • Listen closely when the National Weather Service issues a severe weather warning. Activate the action plan if Richmond is included in the warning or you hear weather sirens.
  • Collect the emergency supplies and go to a safe shelter immediately. Inform others of the warning as you go to the shelter. Stay away from windows, skylights and doors.
  • DO NOT use the elevators. Individuals who cannot use the stairs should take shelter on the same floor in a small interior windowless room, such as a restroom or interior office. Offer assistance to individuals with special needs.
  • As severe weather approaches, sit facing the wall, and cover your head and face with available protective objects. If possible, get under a sturdy piece of furniture.
  • If there is time and it is safe to do so, begin a sign-in sheet in the shelter area (please print). If individuals leave during the storm, ask them to sign out.
  • Keep phone lines (and cell phones) available for emergency communication.
  • Stay in the building until the storm has passed and the all active warnings have expired. There is no official “all clear” siren or signal.
  • Once the storm has past, check others for injuries. Report all injuries to Public Safety or emergency responders.
  • When exiting the building, beware of downed power lines, broken glass and unsafe areas. Go to a central area of campus away from storm debris and await assistance.

Storm shelters

The safest shelter areas are small windowless interior rooms or interior corridors on the lowest available floor (preferably the basement). Stay away from windows, skylights and exterior doors.

  • Seek shelter on the floor you are on if you are unable to use the stairs. Small windowless rooms, such as restrooms or interior offices, are good choices. Use a buddy system.
  • Do not shelter in large spaces such as cafeterias, concourses, auditoriums, theaters or gymnasiums.
  • Do not use the elevators during severe weather.

More information about severe weather