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Staying safe during a severe storm emergency

Tornado season is blowing into Smith County from April to June, which has many out-of-district students wondering what to do in an emergency situation. Students off campus may have their own emergency process, but students living on campus may find themselves feeling less than prepared. While there are emergency procedures in place on the TJC campus, it can seem difficult to know what to do in the midst of an emergency. Here are some things to expect and keep in mind on campus in this unpredictable weather.

1. Know where shelter is

Many buildings can withstand high winds and other types of severe weather. The bathrooms in Jenkins Hall, for example, as well as the first-floor bathrooms in the Rogers Student Center are marked with green “Severe Weather Shelter” signs to alert those nearby that it is safe to shelter there. Most bathrooms on-campus are considered safe shelter areas.

“Being on the highest floor isn’t always safe,” explained Crossroads Hall resident assistant Simon Griffith. “Every (dorm) room has an emergency shelter room, which is usually the bathroom.”  

Photo by Brooklyn Gundling

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommends taking shelter in one’s basement, but according to their website, those without may use an “inside room, without windows, on the lowest floor. This could be a center hallway, bathroom or closet.”

A windowless room is important, as severe winds could break the glass and cause harm to those sheltering inside.

2. Have the essentials ready

If aware of imminent weather, one should pack a bag of essentials. These may vary by location, type of weather and individual preferences. But in general, the bag should have a flashlight with extra batteries, a small first aid kit, some type of snack such as granola bars, a water bottle and a phone charger. The CDC also recommends keeping “fresh batteries and a battery-operated TV,” nearby in order to “listen to the latest emergency weather information,” on their website. 

It is important to know where these items are and to keep them close by when severe weather is expected in or near the area.

3. Find a buddy

No matter how old you are, storms can be frightening to face alone. Having someone nearby can help if something goes wrong. The CDC’s website warns that sheltering alone will put one at risk of getting injured without help. Sticking with a partner will also prolong the battery life of phones and radios if all parties have their own. There’s also something to be said about the comfort of not feeling alone during an emergency.

If possible, find someone you know and stay together.

4. Stay informed

If possible, keep a news channel’s feed going on the phone or tune the radio to a news frequency. TJC has a way to keep students, faculty and staff informed through TJC Alerts. TJC Alerts sends emergency messages directly to those who sign up to the service through text message, phone call and email. Signing up for TJC Alerts will keep you up to date during an emergency. 

You can sign up to the TJC Alert system by going to Apache Access and clicking on the box titled “TJC Alert Notifications.”

It can be easy to panic during an emergency, but it is important to keep a calm and level-head and listen to instructions. Make sure to shelter as quickly as possible with someone you know, grab your essential items and pay attention to announcements made by the local weather service or TJC through TJC Alerts. For more information about the emergency procedures of TJC, visit

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