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Easy Ways to Survive Severe Weather

Note for March 25th: Just as we did last week, we are sharing this information as a precaution in anticipation of today’s severe weather.

What do you do when severe weather heads your way? Don’t wait! Get prepared! Here is what you need to do:

Be Alert!

Make sure you are registered for UTC-ALERT*.  An alert is only issued from our UTC-ALERT system if there is an emergency affecting our campus. This means you will only receive an alert when a severe weather warning has been issued for our specific area.

Listening to what local media and the National Weather Service has to say about your area can help preemptively avoid being caught in a severe weather event. For the Chattanooga area, the following sources update citizens on predictions and current status: Channel 3 News, Channel 9 News, Channel 12 News, and the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Not only do these media companies utilize their primary platforms of television or print, but they also use social media platforms during extreme weather circumstances and have their own mobile apps to push notifications. Some share constant updates via free livestreams in case a cable connection is not accessible or available.

Free weather apps are also available and a good addition for redundancy. A good recommendation for Tennessee residents is “ReadyTN 2.0” in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Look for the Notifications option under Settings in your phone and scroll to the very bottom. You will see a Government Alerts section where you can turn on Emergency Alerts (next to Amber and Public Safety Alerts). These apps and notifications give you advance warnings and let you know when you need to take action, so download and turn on notifications today.

Make a Plan!

Building a plan can seem complicated, and you might be tempted to just forget about it. Establishing a communications plan, building an emergency preparedness kit, and understanding the types of severe weather most common in your area are key to surviving and recovering from severe weather incidents.

Watches and Warnings – What’s the Difference?

When the weather guys talk about watches or warnings, we often aren’t really sure what that means. Here’s the breakdown:

A watch is issued when the potential exists for the development of severe weather, and will clearly state the type of weather that is of concern. In the case of a tornado watch, this means that conditions are favorable for the formation of a tornado, but no tornado has actually been sited or reported. No immediate action is needed when a watch is issued. Just make sure you have your disaster kit handy, remain aware by continuing to monitor your local news and weather radio, and be ready to shelter if the watch is upgraded.

A warning is only issued when immediate action is needed. Never ignore a warning, take immediate action, grab your disaster kit and go. Seek shelter and continue to monitor your radio and local news. Do not leave your shelter until the all-clear has been sounded, or the warning has expired.

Serious Survival: Where Do I Go?

When severe weather hits, you need to know where to go! Knowing where to go before severe weather strikes will greatly increase your chances of getting to a safe location in time. Many public buildings have a designated shelter area. You should look for evacuation signs in public buildings and know the best route to get there. If you don’t see any signs, don’t shrug it off.  Think about it. Use these basic tips to figure out where to safely shelter:

  • Move to the lowest level of the building. Levels that are underground, like a basement, are best.
  • If an underground shelter is not available, move to an interior room on the lowest floor and stay away from windows. Restrooms are typically the best place to be.
  • Get under a sturdy piece of furniture and cover yourself with a coat or blanket to help protect yourself from flying debris.
  • Do not worry about gathering up your belongings. If you have your kit nearby, grab it and go. If you don’t, don’t search for it. Certainly, you should not try to gather items when a warning is issued. It’s too late.  Get to shelter immediately.
  • If you are in a mobile home, do not stay inside. Immediately move to a nearby and substantial building.
  • If you are outside and don’t have a safe building nearby, AS A LAST RESORT,
    • Get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to a sturdy shelter.
    • If your vehicle is hit by flying debris, pull over and park.
    • Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below window level and cover your head.
    • If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the road, leave your car and lie in that area.
    • This is a last resort. Neither a car or a low-lying area are safe options. The best option is to get into a sturdy shelter.

Want more serious tips about serious weather? Visit Ready.gov and the American Red Cross. Learn about our other info blogs regarding safety tips on weather topics, such as Flood Safety and Weather Auto Safety.


Students Now Auto Enrolled into UTC-ALERT

What Changed?

As of February 8th, all students now have an account in the UTC-ALERT system that is accessible with their UTC ID and UTC password. Prior, students had to register themselves with a separate password and add their own mobile phone number(s) or personal email address(es).

How to check and update your personal UTC-ALERT information:

  1. Open your preferred web browser to: https://www.getrave.com/login/utc
  2. Log-in using your UTC ID (example: ABC123) and UTC password.
  3. Select the My Account tab.
  4. Check your current number(s) under the Mobile Phones section for accuracy.
  5. Click the Edit button beside existing mobile numbers to change or the Add button to add new mobile numbers to your account.
  6. Select the yellow TEST button to receive a test message.
  7. Same rule, from Step 5, apply for your additional Email address(es). Your registration email should be your main UTC email address.

UTC-ALERT does not distribute advertising or other promotional content. Users pay no fees, other than any individual fees associated with SMS text messaging services. Some cellular service providers might not work with UTC-ALERT. Anyone receiving UTC-ALERT text messages can request removal by replying STOP to a UTC-ALERT.

If a test did not send through a confirmation or your registration email is inaccurate, please add your main UTC Email address then contact us via emergency-services@utc.edu. Our Emergency Services team will continue to prioritize the health and safety of the campus community.


Free Self Defense Training Offered via UTC Police

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Police Department is offering a Basic Level R.A.D. (Rape Aggression Defense) training this February at the Challenger Center Building and there are still spots available! This dynamic, hands-on program was designed for the average woman, beginning with awareness, risk reduction, avoidance and overall prevention. Then, basic techniques are taught in an enjoyable format by certified instructors. At the end of the basic program, women are encouraged to use their new techniques in a practical, controlled simulation exercise. Don’t miss this opportunity to develop your options of resistance if assaulted.

R.A.D. is an internationally recognized alliance of self-defense educators dedicated to enhancing self-defense options for women while developing their individually unique abilities to manage aggressive and violent behavior. R.A.D. is the largest organization or program ever endorsed by the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA). R.A.D.’s self-defense philosophies have been taught at over 3,500 colleges, universities, city, county, and state police departments nationwide.

This class does not require any special training or special fitness level. Students at all levels of ability, age, experience and strength will be provided with techniques and information that can be effectively used from the first day of class. This Basic Self Defense program is for all woman Identified and woman ages from 12 and up. The first class is on Sunday the 23rd (3pm-6pm), Monday the 24th, and Tuesday the 25th (both 6pm-9pm). The class is scheduled in blocks, it is not mandatory to take part every day; however, you must attend all dates to receive certification in order to register for an advanced self defense class.

Due to unforeseen circumstances our UTC Police’s Corporal Rebecca Tolbert could not host this month’s training as initially planned. However, with the assistance from local certified instructors Lt. Joshua Fraker, Jessi Fraker, Teri Reutebuch, and Anissa Michalek this training will still go on. We are deeply grateful to them to step in last minute for us all in order to continue this class. Food, drinks and snacks will be provided on behalf of both the UTC PD and UTC Student Development.

To register ahead of time for this important training RSVP to this event and fill out the forms available on our UTC Emergency Services MocSync page. For more information, you can contact our Operations Lieutenant, at John-Boe@utc.edu or call our dispatch at (423) 425-4357.


thinkSAFE: Flood Safety Information

Heavy rains have contributed to flooding in low-lying areas around campus recently and we would like to share information in understanding what the campus community should do in order to stay safe.

It can be confusing hearing the terms “Advisory, Watch, and Warning” among others that national agencies categorize weather hazards. Remembering these terms is part of the difficulty; however, knowing how to protect yourself and knowing where flooding is common are just as important. The following safety information is provided in part by the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration.

Local agencies and our UTC Police Department always advise three precautionary/preparedness tips:

  1. Turn around, don’t drown!” – A mere 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away most cars and just 2 feet of rushing water can carry away SUVs and trucks. It is never safe to drive or walk into flood waters.
  2. Slow down and be cautious at night when it is harder to recognize the dangers of flooding.” – The greatest potential for hydroplaning can occur within the first ten minutes or even a light rain as that water can combine with the oil residue that automobiles leave on the surface of the road. That combination of water and oil creates the ideal conditions for slippery roads, and thus increases the potential for loss of control; especially when it difficult to see at night.
  3. Allow more time for travel.” – Whether you are traveling by foot or automobile, using the two previous tips can potentially delay your normal commute time to campus. We much rather you arrive safe than risk your life being on time. Know alternate routes you can use in case of road closures and leave 10-15 minutes earlier than usual, it can make a huge difference.

We strongly suggest students, faculty, or staff to report to UTC Police (423-425-4357) when you see substantial flooding on campus. This could be helpful in attaining more information in order to communicate between our staff and officers, and then leading toward an assessment of the affected area. “See something, say something.

One local online tool you can use is the Hamilton County 911 active incident page where you select ‘road closures’ that are officially known to the County 911 Center. There are road names plus Google Map locations linked in case of flooding or other safety hazards that may affect your commute.

Surrounding our campus there are low-lying areas where flash floods can occur at any given time during heavy downpours. Over the past years spots that are usually prone to flooding are contributed by city street drains and surround property that pond up water, thus blocking entry ways to buildings, resident halls and parking lots.

Flash floods are exactly what the name suggests: floods that happen in a flash. Flash floods generally develop within 6 hours of the immediate cause. These floods exhibit a rapid rise of water over low-lying areas. In some cases, flooding may even occur well away from where heavy rain initially fell. These sudden downpours can rapidly change the water levels in a stream or creek and turn small waterways into violent, raging rivers. Urban areas are especially prone to flash floods due to the large amounts of concrete and asphalt surfaces that do not allow water to penetrate into the soil easily, as well as debris blocking storm drains from being 100% efficient.

What is the difference between a Flood Watch and a Flood Warning issued by the National Weather Service?

  • Flash Flood Warning: Take Action A Flash Flood Warning is issued when a flash flood is imminent or occurring. If you are in a flood prone area move immediately to high ground. A flash flood is a sudden violent flood that can take from minutes to hours to develop.
  • Flood Warning: Take Action A Flood Warning is issued when the hazardous weather event is imminent or already happening. A Flood Warning is issued when flooding is imminent or occurring.
  • Flood Watch: Be Prepared: A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for a specific hazardous weather event to occur. A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flooding. It does not mean flooding will occur, but it is possible.
  • Flood Advisory: Be Aware: An Flood Advisory is issued when a specific weather event that is forecast to occur may become a nuisance. A Flood Advisory is issued when flooding is not expected to be bad enough to issue a warning. However, it may cause significant inconvenience, and if caution is not exercised, it could lead to situations that may threaten life and/or property.

Our Emergency Services’ two divisions take these warnings seriously and assess potential threats of all kinds. When a decision is made to change the operations schedule, information is distributed to the campus community via UTC-ALERT in a variety of ways. Via multiple email, text message, main UTC social media accounts, website platforms, shared with on-campus WUTC-FM 88.1, and other local news outlets. Recorded voice messages with status reports are at 423-425-4766. Clear instructions are given to both employees and students of the University whether there is a delay or closing, and if any specific faculty or staff are required to work.

Learn what the university inclement weather policy states and follow the National Weather Service or the local news stations for specifics on city road conditions that you take to campus.

To see more flood safety tips from the National Weather Service, you can read here: https://www.weather.gov/safety/flood


UTC Emergency Services to Assist ARC Staff Training

During an Aquatics and Recreation Center (ARC) training a live exercise for campus recreation employees involving both Hamilton County and UTC first responders will take place.

Scheduled on Friday, January the 10th taking place in between 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm a scenario will test campus rec staff while the building is closed to the public. This comprehensive scenario will allow both students and staff to see first hand what a live coordination between County Emergency Medical Services with our Police Department plus Safety and Risk Management office.

For the first time surrounding responders will help students see firsthand what to expect and create a more powerful learning experience. The specific details of the simulated response will be presented day of to the rec staff; however, University and the City will be involved in arriving on the scene to collaborate just like an actual emergency. One of the key components of the ARC staff regular training’s is running scenarios, so each student can have a more in depth understanding of how emergencies play out and what their subsequent role is during an emergency.

If a question or a concern arises about the Friday training, call 423-425-5741.


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