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.

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