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Severe Weather

Extreme Heat

Conditions of extreme heat are defined as summertime temperatures that are substantially hotter and/or more humid than average for location at that time of year. Heat kills by pushing the human body beyond its limits. In extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature. Most heat disorders occur because the victim has been overexposed to heat or has over-exercised for his or her age and physical condition. Older adults, young children and those who are sick or overweight are more likely to succumb to extreme heat.  Summers are often long and hot in Texas.  Take precautions to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Here are some tips:

  • Keep a supply of water handy. 
  • Drink plenty of water even if you do not fell thirsty.
  • Limit intake of alcohol.
  • Stay inside during the warmest hours and limit sun exposure.
  • Protect face and skin by wearing a hat and light clothing.
  • Muscle pains and spasms are the first indictor of heat exhaustion.

Flash Flooding

Be aware of flood hazards no matter where you live or work, but especially if you are in low-lying areas, near water, behind a levee, or downstream from a dam. Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry streambeds, or low-lying ground that appear harmless in dry weather can flood. Major storms or water main breaks can cause flooding.

Here are some tips:

  • Listen for information from media, public safety, or Facilities Management.
  • Move vital records, equipment, and hazardous materials to higher ground.
  • Move personnel to a safe area and assist those with disabilities.
  • Do not walk through moving water.
    • Six inches of fast moving water can knock over an adult.
    • Two feet of water can carry most vehicles away.

Hail

Hail are hard, frozen nuggets formed when raindrops pass through a belt of cold air on their way to earth. The cold air causes the raindrops to freeze into small blocks of ice. Hail most commonly causes damage to property and vehicles. Considering the fact that large stones can fall at speeds faster than 100 mph. Stay away from windows and glass doors. Turn on a radio, weather alert radio, or television for current information about the weather.

Power Outage

Campus-wide power outages are extremely rare, but possible when there is damage from fires, winter weather, downed trees, lightning, and floods.  During a blackout these systems may experience a brief interruption as power is switched to an emergency generator or when power to the building is restored. Elevators do not work during power outages. Contact Facilities Management when a power outage occurs at 817.272.2000.

Straight Line Winds

Damaging winds are often called “straight-line” winds to differentiate the damage they cause from tornado damage. Strong thunderstorm winds can come from a number of different processes. Most thunderstorm winds that cause damage at the ground are a result of outflow generated by a thunderstorm downdraft. Damaging winds are classified as those exceeding 50-60 mph.

Inside of a building:

  • Move to the lowest floor and stay away from windows.
  • Taking shelter in a basement is strongly encouraged, especially if you are surrounded by trees that could fall onto the building.

In a mobile home or manufactured home:

  • Move to a stronger building if one is nearby
  • Mobile and manufactured homes can usually withstand low-end straight-line wind storms, but as winds reach or exceed 70 mph, the risk of these homes being blown apart or struck by falling trees increases greatly.

Driving:

  • Keep both hands on the wheel and slow down.
  • Pull over to the shoulder and stop, making sure you are away from trees or other tall objects that could fall onto your vehicle. DO NOT stop in the middle of a lane under an overpass. This could lead to an accident.
  • Take extra care in a high-profile vehicle such as a truck, van, SUV, or when towing a trailer.
    • These are more prone to being pushed or even flipped by straight-line winds.
    • If possible, orient your vehicle so that it points into the wind.
  • Stay in the car and turn on the hazard lights until the wind subsides.

Caught outside:

  • Take cover in a well-built building, or use this building to block the wind if you cannot get inside.
  • If no building is nearby, find the lowest spot and crouch low to the ground.
  • Stay away from trees or power lines, since these are easily felled by straight-line winds.
  • Stay clear of roadways or train tracks, as the winds may blow you into the path of an oncoming vehicle
  • Watch for flying debris. Tree limbs, street signs, and other objects may break and become flying projectiles in the wind.

If you venture outside after the storm has passed, be alert for downed power lines. Do not touch any downed wires or anything in contact with the wires.

Thunderstorms and Lightning

All thunderstorms are dangerous. Every thunderstorm produces lightning. Lightning continues to be one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States. On average, lightning kills 51 people per year in the US, and injures hundreds more. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms.

If thunderstorms and lightning are occurring in your area, you should:

  • Use your battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.
  • Avoid contact with corded phones and devices including those plugged into electric for recharging. Cordless and wireless phones not connected to wall outlets are OK to use.
  • Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.
  • Avoid natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area.
  • Avoid hilltops, open fields, the beach or a boat on the water.
  • Take shelter in a sturdy building. Avoid small structures in open areas.
  • Avoid contact with anything metal –motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, and bicycles.
  • If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.

Tornado

Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate a community in seconds. A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm cloud to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible. Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still. A cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.

If you are in a structure:

  • Go to a pre-designated area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or lowest building level. In most buildings on campus, there are Shelter Area signs on the restrooms and pre-designated shelter areas.
  • If there is no basement, go to the center of a small interior room on the lowest level away from corners, windows, doors and exterior walls.
  • Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside.
  • Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck.
  • Do not open windows.

If you are outside with no shelter:

  • There is no single research based recommendation for what last-resort action to take because many factors can affect your decision. Possible actions include:
    • Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt, and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If your vehicle is hit by flying debris while you are driving, pull over and park.
    • Take cover in a stationary vehicle. Put the seat belt on and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
    • Lie in an area noticeably lower than the level of the roadway and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
  • In all situations:
    • Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
    • Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.
    • Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes the most fatalities.

Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

While the danger from winter weather varies across the country, nearly all Americans, regardless of where they live, are likely to face some type of severe winter weather at some point in their lives. Winter storms can range from a moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard with blinding, wind-driven snow that lasts for several days. Many winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures and sometimes by strong winds, icing, sleet and freezing rain

One of the primary concerns is the winter weather’s ability to knock out heat, power and communications services to your home or office, sometimes for days at a time. Heavy snowfall and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region.

The National Weather Service refers to winter storms as the “Deceptive Killers” because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm. Instead, people die in traffic accidents on icy roads and of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold. It is important to be prepared for winter weather before it strikes.

  • Stay indoors during the storm.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy, walkways.
  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack —a major cause of death in the winter. Use caution, take breaks, push the snow instead of lifting it when possible, and lift lighter loads.
  • Keep dry, change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
  • Frostbite and Hypothermia :
    • Signs of Frostbite: Occurs when the skin and body tissue just beneath it freezes. Loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, earlobes, face, and the tip of the nose.
      • What to Do: Cover exposed skin, but do not rub the affected area in an attempt to warm it up. Seek medical help immediately.
    • Signs of Hypothermia: Dangerously low body temperature. Uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion.
      • What to Do: If symptoms of hypothermia are detected take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95°F, seek medical attention immediately. Get the victim to a warm location. Remove wet clothing. Warm the center of the body first by wrapping the person in blankets or putting on dry clothing. Give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Seek medical help immediately.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends, if you detect symptoms of frostbite, seek medical care. Because frostbite and hypothermia both result from exposure, first determine whether the victim also shows signs of hypothermia. Hypothermia is a more serious medical condition and requires emergency medical assistance.

  • Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive: travel in the day; don’t travel alone; keep others informed of your schedule; stay on main roads and avoid back road shortcuts. Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.

Emergency or crime in progress: Dial 817-272-3003 //
Report a crime or non-emergency: Dial 817-272-3381