Emergency Preparedness Director Offers Tornado Tips

Adam Crowe
Adam Crowe

Imagine working in your office or classroom on campus with the wind howling outside and rain or hail beating against the window. Emergency sirens sound an alarm and the campus is alerted to a tornado warning.  

Would you know what to do?

VCU’s Emergency Preparedness Director Adam Crowe wants to make sure that you do.

“Tornadoes are common in Virginia,” Crowe said. “It is critically important for the VCU community and their families to know what to do and where to go in case of a tornado warning.”

Crowe said 62 tornadoes hit Virginia during the past two years, killing 10 people and injuring more than 100. Some 210 homes were destroyed, and more than 1,050 were damaged. Nearly every part of the state was affected.

This year, Gov. Bob McDonnell has proclaimed Tuesday, March 12, as Tornado Preparedness Day. In accordance with the proclamation, Crowe is calling on VCU students and employees to practice their tornado emergency plans, evaluate the contents of their emergency supplies and learn more about what would happen at VCU if a tornado were threatening the community.

“In the event of a confirmed or radar indicated tornado, VCU will activate all emergency alerting technologies including the campus siren systems, Alertus, digital signage, SMS text messaging, Twitter and Facebook to alert the community of the risk and to direct them to seek shelter,” Crowe said.

Here are some general tips for riding out the storm.

If inside:

  • Go to a windowless, interior room on the lowest possible level of the building.

  • If you cannot go to a lower level, go to an interior hallway or a smaller interior room without windows such as a bathroom or closet.

  • Avoid places with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums, cafeterias, large hallways or large rooms.

  • Position yourself under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a heavy table, desk or workbench and hold on to it.

  • Use arms to protect head and neck.

If outdoors:

  • Try to find shelter immediately in the nearest substantial building.

  • If shelter is not available or there is no time to get indoors, lie down flat in a ditch or low-lying area, or crouch by the nearest substantial building. 

  • Use arms to protect head and neck.

If in a vehicle:

  • Get out of the vehicle immediately and take shelter in the nearest sturdy building.

  • If there is no time to get indoors, pull your vehicle off the road, stay buckled and place your head beneath the glass line 

  • Do not take shelter under a highway overpass.

For more helpful tips and information about weather safety and other emergency preparedness at VCU, please visit


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