Emergency Management

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The Office of Emergency Management (OEM [Office of Emergency Management] ) is tasked with creating a culture of emergency preparedness and response across the University. OEM [Office of Emergency Management] is responsible for coordinating a comprehensive, all-hazards approach through all cycles of an emergency — preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation.

In addition to University-wide efforts, OEM [Office of Emergency Management] is available to provide guidance for departments and colleges developing and improving their emergency plans.

Be Comet Ready

Make a Plan

  • There are actions that should be taken before, during, and after an event that are unique to each hazard. Identify the hazards that have happened or could happen in your area and plan for the unique actions for each. Local Emergency management offices can help identify the hazards in your area and outline the local plans and recommendations for each. Share the hazard-specific information with family members and include pertinent materials in your family disaster plan.
  • Find out from local government emergency management how you will be notified for each kind of disasters, both natural and man-made. You should also inquire about alert and warning systems for workplace, schools and other locations. Methods of getting your attention vary from community to community. One common method is to broadcast via emergency radio and TV broadcasts. You might hear a special siren, or get a telephone call, or in rare circumstances, volunteers and emergency workers may go door-to-door.
  • A great resource is the FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] Family Communication Plan. This fillable sheet is very useful in an emergency because it has a place to write down an out-of-town contact’s information, work information, neighborhood meeting place, regional meeting place, school information, family information, medical contacts, and insurance information.

Build a Kit

  • A disaster supplies kit is simply a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.
  • Try to assemble your kit well in advance of an emergency. You may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice and take essentials with you. You will probably not have time to search for the supplies you need or shop for them.
  • You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least 72 hours. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours or it might take days.
  • Additionally, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may be cut off for days or even a week, or longer. Your supplies kit should contain items to help you manage during these outages.
  • Additional items to consider adding to an Emergency Supply Kit are found in the FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] Emergency Supply List.

Be Informed

  • Natural disasters such as flood, fire, earthquake, tornado and windstorm affect thousands of people every year. You should know what your risks are and prepare to protect yourself, your family and community.
  • Recognizing an impending hazard and knowing what to do to protect yourself and your family will help you take effective steps to prepare beforehand and aid recovery after the event.
  • Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling a supply kit and developing a family emergency plan, are the same for all types of hazards. However each emergency is unique and knowing the actions to take for each threat will impact the specific decisions and preparations you make. By learning about these specific threats, you are preparing yourself to react in an emergency.
  • For more detail about each hazard, please see Know Your Hazards, below.

In the event of an emergency or natural disaster the campus community will be notified as prominently as possible through several means of communication. This includes UTDAlert, the Outdoor Warning System, Indoor Warning System, UT Dallas Homepage, fire alarm systems, and local media.



UT Dallas will send you email and text alerts in the event of an emergency or disruption to normal University operations. The message will be sent to the email and telephone number listed in University records. If you change your phone number or are not receiving information during tests conducted the first Wednesday of every month at noon, please log into Galaxy and update your number. Step-by-step instructions are provided.

Guests, parents, and contractors can sign up for UTDAlert by texting UTDAlert to 888-777.

For more information about the University’s notification system, see News Center. Questions may be sent to UTDAlert@utdallas.edu.


Outdoor Warning System (OWS)

Outdoor Warning System

The Outdoor Warning System (sirens) is used to warn the public of an approaching hazard such as severe thunderstorms or tornadoes. UT Dallas has 3 outdoor warning sirens located on campus. This system is tied to the City of Richardson’s Outdoor Warning System and can be activated by the City of Richardson remotely or manually by UTD. The Outdoor Warning System is tested the first Wednesday of each month at noon. Tests may be canceled due to weather or other events.

The Outdoor Warning System will be activated when:

  • The National Weather Service issues a Richardson area Tornado Warning or Severe Thunderstorm Warning with destructive winds at or above 70 mph
  • Trained storm spotters have reported a tornado with the potential to affect the City of Richardson
  • Hail of 1.25 inches (Half Dollar) in diameter is imminent
  • Deemed necessary by UTD or City of Richardson officials (i.e.: in the event of any emergency when officials need to get citizens to move indoors for their safety)

Indoor Warning System (IWS)

Indoor Warning System

This system enables UTD emergency services to have the capability to communicate with most buildings or each building individually. Some buildings are outfitted with equipment that can communicate live and recorded messages, but others must be accessed individually at the fire panels in the buildings. The Indoor Warning System is tested quarterly. Tests may be canceled due to weather or other events.

Fire Alarm pulls also are used in warning occupants of an emergency within the building.

UT Dallas Homepage

UT Dallas Homepage

The UT Dallas homepage is the best place to find the most authoritative and detailed information. Updates in any emergency situation will be posted there as soon as possible.

Social Media

Social Media

Emergency messages are also posted on the University’s official Facebook page, which can be viewed by everyone, including those who do not have a Facebook account. In some situations, Facebook may be the quickest place to find updated information. Messages are also sent through the University’s official Twitter account @UT_Dallas.



Media outlets that may supply information and updates on campus emergencies include the following:


  • KDFW (Channel 4)
  • KXAS (Channel 5)
  • WFAA (Channel 8)
  • KTVT (Channel 11)


  • KLIF-AM (570)
  • WBAP-AM (820)
  • KRLD-AM (1080)
  • KTCK-AM (1310 and 96.7)
  • KERA-FM (90.1)
  • KVIL-FM (103.7)
  • KPLX-FM (99.5)
  • KLUV-FM (98.7)
  • Jack FM (100.3)
  • KLIF-FM (93.3)
  • The Fan (105.3)
  • La Grande (107.5)

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA)

Wireless Emergency Alerts

During an emergency, alert and warning officials need to provide the public with life-saving information quickly. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA [Wireless Emergency Alert] s), made available through the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS [Integrated Public Alert and Warning System] ) infrastructure, are just one of the ways public safety officials can quickly and effectively alert and warn the public about serious emergencies.

What you need to know about WEA [Wireless Emergency Alert] s:

  • WEA [Wireless Emergency Alert] s can be sent by state and local public safety officials, the National Weather Service, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the President of the United States
  • WEA [Wireless Emergency Alert] s can be issued for three alert categories – imminent threat, AMBER, and presidential
  • WEA [Wireless Emergency Alert] s look like text messages, but are designed to get your attention and alert you with a unique sound and vibration, both repeated twice
  • WEA [Wireless Emergency Alert] s are no more than 90 characters, and will include the type and time of the alert, any action you should take, as well as the agency issuing the alert
  • WEA [Wireless Emergency Alert] s are not affected by network congestion and will not disrupt texts, calls, or data sessions that are in progress
  • Mobile users are not charged for receiving WEAs and there is no need to subscribe
  • To ensure your device is WEA [Wireless Emergency Alert] -capable, check with your service provider

For more information, see the FEMA [Federal Emergency Management] WEA [Wireless Emergency Alert] PSA [Public Service Announcement] videos.

Other Systems

City of Richardson Notification System

The Richardson Notification System allows you to sign up to receive important information via text, email and phone about emergencies and other community information.

Dallas Alert Emergency Notification System

Dallas ALERT is an emergency warning tool used to make rapid emergency telephone notifications to residents and businesses in precise geographic areas. GeoCast® Web™ will be used by City of Dallas emergency officials, during emergencies only, to deliver incident-specific information or potentially life-saving instructions to those in an affected area.

Cellular phone numbers are not automatically included in the system database, nor are Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP [Voice over Internet Protocol] ) phone systems. If you would like to receive these emergency telephone notifications on your cellular or VoIP [Voice over Internet Protocol] phone, you must first register these phone numbers. You may register through their Self-Registration Portal.

All Hazards Radio Network

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA [National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration] ) provides a nationwide network of radio stations, which broadcasts continuous weather information. The service is provided at no cost to those who own a weather radio.

Owning a weather radio allows you to receive information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week about life-threatening hazards and keeps you aware of any changing situations. When severe weather or other hazardous situations are expected, the radio will sound an alert, warning users that a watch or warning is in affect for the area.

You can program your weather radio to receive updates for multiple cities or counties. You can find your area’s frequency online. Specific tones or alarms can be assigned to alert you for varying situations. All weather radios have the option of becoming battery operated, so in the event of a power failure, you can continue to receive critical information.

Weather radios may be purchased at many retail outlets including electronic, sporting goods, or outdoor departments. They can also be purchased via the Internet from online retailers or directly from manufacturers. The National Weather Service website includes lists of manufacturers and sellers of weather radios.

If you need help setting up your weather radio on campus, please call 972.883.2831.

Midland Radio Manual

UT Dallas departments with the Midland 120 may download the Owner’s Manual (PDF [Portable Document Format File] ).

Watch vs. Warning

Severe Thunderstorm Watch vs. Warning

Watch: Conditions are favorable for the severe weather event in or near the watch area. When a watch is announced, stay alert and be ready to take action. Watches include include Tornado, Severe Thunderstorm, Winter Weather and Flash Flood.

Warning: Severe weather event is imminent or occurring in the warned area. Take action based on the emergency at hand. Warnings include Tornado, Severe Thunderstorm, Winter Weather and Flash Flood.

Watch vs. Warning

Communicable Disease

Communicable Disease

Communicable Disease is an illness caused by an infectious agent or its toxins that occurs through the direct or indirect transmission of the infectious agent or its products from an infected individual or via an animal, vector or the inanimate environment to a susceptible animal or human host.

  1. Handle and Prepare Food Safely

    Food can carry germs. Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces often when preparing any food, especially raw meat. Always wash fruits and vegetables. Cook and keep foods at proper temperatures. Don’t leave food out - refrigerate promptly.

  2. Wash Hands Often

    Learn how, when, and why to wash your hands.

  3. Clean and Disinfect Commonly Used Surfaces

    Germs can live on surfaces. Cleaning with soap and water is usually enough. However, you should disinfect your bathroom and kitchen regularly. Disinfect other areas if someone in the house is ill. You can use an EPA certified disinfectant (look for the EPA registration number on the label), bleach solution, or rubbing alcohol.

  4. Cough and Sneeze Into Your Sleeve

    Learn how and when to cover your cough and sneeze.

  5. Don’t Share Personal Items

    Avoid sharing personal items that can’t be disinfected, like toothbrushes and razors, or sharing towels between washes. Needles should never be shared, should only be used once, and then thrown away properly.

  6. Get Vaccinated

    Vaccines can prevent many infectious diseases. You should get some vaccinations in childhood, some as an adult, and some for special situations like pregnancy and travel. Make sure you and your family are up-to-date on your vaccinations. Students should visit the Student Health Center for vaccinations and faculty and staff should visit their primary health physicians.

  7. Avoid Touching Wild Animals

    You and your pets should avoid touching wild animals which can carry germs that cause infectious diseases. If you are bitten, talk to your doctor. Make sure that your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date.

  8. Stay Home When Sick

    Learn more about why you should stay home when sick.



What is Drought?

Drought is a deficiency in precipitation over an extended period, usually a season or more, resulting in a water shortage causing adverse impacts on vegetation, animals, and/or people. It is a normal, recurrent feature of climate that occurs in virtually all climate zones, from very wet to very dry. Drought is a temporary aberration from normal climatic conditions, thus it can vary significantly from one region to another. Drought is different than aridity, which is a permanent feature of climate in regions where low precipitation is the norm, as in a desert. Human factors, such as water demand and water management, can exacerbate the impact that drought has on a region. Because of the interplay between a natural drought event and various human factors, drought means different things to different people. In practice, drought is defined in a number of ways that reflect various perspectives and interests.

Indoor Water Conservation Tips Prior to a Drought

  • Never pour water down the drain when there may be another use for it. For example, use it to water your indoor plants or garden.
  • Repair dripping faucets by replacing washers. One drop per second wastes 2,700 gallons of water per year.
  • Check all plumbing for leaks and have any leaks repaired by a plumber.
  • Retrofit all household faucets by installing aerators with flow restrictors.
  • Install an instant hot water heater on your sink.
  • Insulate your water pipes to reduce heat loss and prevent them from breaking.
  • Install a water-softening system only when the minerals in the water would damage your pipes. Turn the softener off while on vacation.
  • Choose appliances that are more energy and water efficient.

Always observe state and local restrictions on water use during a drought. For example, if restrictions are in place, do not water your lawn, wash your car, or use water for other non-essential purposes. This will help ensure there is enough water for essential uses. Contact your state or local government for current information and suggestions.

Drought also creates environmental conditions that increase the risk of other hazards such as wildfire, flash flood, and possible landslides and debris flow.



An earthquake is what happens when two blocks of the earth suddenly slip past one another. The surface where they slip is called the fault or fault plane. The location below the earth’s surface where the earthquake starts is called the hypocenter, and the location directly above it on the surface of the earth is called the epicenter. Earthquakes rarely happen in North Texas.


  • Look around places where you spend time. Identify safe places such as under a sturdy piece of furniture or against an interior wall in your home, office or school so that when the shaking starts, you drop to the ground, cover your head and neck with your arms, and if a safer place is nearby, crawl to it and hold On.

    Practice how to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On!

  • To react quickly you must practice often. You may only have seconds to protect yourself in an earthquake.
  • Before an earthquake occurs, secure items that could fall and cause injuries, e.g.: bookshelves, mirrors, light fixtures.
  • Store critical supplies (e.g.: water, medication) and documents.
  • Plan how you will communicate with family members, including multiple methods by making a family emergency communication plan.
  • When choosing your home or business, check if the building is earthquake resistant per local building codes.


If you are inside a building:

  • Stay where you are until the shaking stops. Do not run outside. Do not get in a doorway as this does not provide protection from falling or flying objects, and you may not be able to remain standing.
  • Drop down onto your hands and knees so the earthquake doesn’t knock you down. Drop to the ground —before the earthquake drops you!
  • Cover your head and neck with your arms to protect yourself from falling debris.
    • If you are in danger from falling objects, and you can move safely, crawl for additional cover under a sturdy desk or table.
    • If there is low furniture or an interior wall or corner nearby, and the path is clear, these may also provide some additional cover.
    • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as light fixtures or furniture.
  • Hold on to any sturdy covering so you can move with it until the shaking stops. Stay where you are until the shaking stops.

If getting safely to the floor to take cover won’t be possible:

Identify an inside corner of the room away from windows and objects that could fall on you. The Earthquake Country Alliance advises getting as low as possible to the floor. People who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices should lock their wheels and remain seated until the shaking stops. Protect your head and neck with your arms, a pillow, a book, or whatever is available.

If you are in bed when you feel the shaking:

If you are in bed, stay there and cover your head and neck with a pillow. At night, hazards and debris are difficult to see and avoid; attempts to move in the dark result in more injuries than remaining in bed.

If you are outside when you feel the shaking:

If you are outdoors when the shaking starts, move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires. Once in the open, “Drop, Cover, and Hold On!” Stay there until the shaking stops. This might not be possible in a city, so you may need to duck inside a building to avoid falling debris.

If you are in a moving vehicle when you feel the shaking:

If you are in a moving vehicle, stop as quickly and safely as possible and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires. Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that the earthquake may have damaged.

Extreme Heat

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. Humid or muggy conditions, which add to the discomfort of high temperatures, occur when a “dome” of high atmospheric pressure traps hazy, damp air near the ground. Extremely dry and hot conditions can provoke dust storms and low visibility. Droughts occur when a long period passes without substantial rainfall. A heat wave combined with a drought is a very dangerous situation.

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.

Conditions that can induce heat-related illnesses include stagnant atmospheric conditions and poor air quality. Consequently, people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than those living in rural areas. Also, asphalt and concrete store heat longer and gradually release heat at night, which can produce higher nighttime temperatures known as the “urban heat island effect”.

A heat wave is an extended period of extreme heat, and is often accompanied by high humidity. These conditions can be dangerous and even life-threatening for humans who don’t take the proper precautions.



Fire is a combustion or burning, in which substances combine chemically with oxygen from the air and typically give out bright light, heat, and smoke.

When the building alarms sound, listen to the message. If it says to evacuate:

  • Leave the building immediately using the closest exit.
  • Don’t use elevators.
  • Assist the disabled.
  • Take valuables and cell phones with you, if possible.
  • Stay 75 feet away from the building, fire lanes, and first responders.



Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States, however not all floods are alike. Some floods develop slowly, while others, such as flash floods, can develop in just a few minutes and without visible signs of rain. Additionally, floods can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community, or very large, affecting entire river basins and multiple states.

Flash floods can occur within a few minutes or hours of excessive rainfall, a dam or levee failure, or a sudden release of water held by an ice jam. Flash floods often have a dangerous wall of roaring water carrying rocks, mud, and other debris. Overland flooding, the most common type of flooding event, typically occurs when waterways, such as rivers or streams, overflow their banks as a result of rainwater or a possible levee breach and cause flooding in surrounding areas. It can also occur when rainfall or snowmelt exceeds the capacity of underground pipes, or the capacity of streets and drains designed to carry flood water away from urban areas.

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.



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, vehicles and crops; more than $1 billion in damage each year. Considering the fact that large stones can fall at speeds faster than 100 mph, it’s important that you protect yourself and learn what to do when hailstorm conditions are present.

How does hail form?

Inside of a thunderstorm are strong updrafts of warm air and downdrafts of cold air. If a water droplet is picked up by the updrafts it can be carried well above the freezing level. With temperatures below 32F, our water droplet freezes. As the frozen droplet begins to fall, carried by cold downdrafts, it may thaw as it moves into warmer air toward the bottom of the thunderstorm. But our little half-frozen droplet may also get picked up again by another updraft carrying it back into very cold air and re-freezing it. With each trip above and below the freezing level, our frozen droplet adds another layer of ice. Finally, our frozen water droplet with many layers of ice, much like the rings in a tree, falls to the ground as hail.

Hazardous Materials Incidents

Hazardous Materials Incidents

Chemicals are found everywhere. They purify drinking water, increase crop production, and simplify household chores. But chemicals also can be hazardous to humans or the environment if used or released improperly. Hazards can occur during production, storage, transportation, use, or disposal. You and your community are at risk if a chemical is used unsafely or released in harmful amounts into the environment where you live, work, or play.

Hazardous materials in various forms can cause death; serious injury; long-lasting health effects; and damage to buildings, homes, and other property. Many products containing hazardous chemicals are used and routinely stored in homes. These products are also shipped daily on the nation’s highways, railroads, waterways, and pipelines.

Chemical manufacturers are one source of hazardous materials, but there are many others, including service stations, hospitals, and hazardous materials waste sites.

Varying quantities of hazardous materials are manufactured, used, or stored at an estimated 4.5 million facilities in the United States —from major industrial plants to local dry cleaning establishments or gardening supply stores.

Hazardous materials come in the form of explosives, flammable and combustible substances, poisons, and radioactive materials. These substances are most often released as a result of transportation accidents or because of chemical accidents in plants.

Power Outage

Power Outage

Campus-wide power outages are extremely rare, but possible when there is damage from fires, winter weather, downed trees, lightning, and floods. In most buildings only the fire alarm systems and emergency lighting are connected to a backup generator. 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.

  • Only use use generators, pressure washers, grills, and similar items outdoors in order to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • If the power is out longer than two hours, throw away food that has a temperature higher than 40°F.
  • Check with local authorities to be sure your water is safe.
  • In hot weather, stay cool and drink plenty of fluids to prevent heat-related illness.
  • In cold weather, wear layers of clothing, which help to keep in body heat.
  • Avoid downed power lines.

Straight Line Winds

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.

Straight-line wind safety is similar to tornado safety. If you are —

Inside of a well-built home or 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 or house.

In a mobile home or manufactured home:

  • Move to a stronger building or storm cellar 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.


  • 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.
  • If you are in the middle of a forest, move to the lowest/smallest stand of trees
  • 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 & Lightning

Thunderstorms & Lightning

All thunderstorms are dangerous. Every thunderstorm produces lightning. While lightning fatalities have decreased over the past 30 years, 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.

Other associated dangers of thunderstorms include tornadoes, strong winds, hail, and flash flooding. Flash flooding is responsible for more fatalities —more than 140 annually— than any other thunderstorm-associated hazard. Dry thunderstorms which do not produce rain that reaches the ground are most prevalent in the western United States. Falling raindrops evaporate, but lightning can still reach the ground and can start wildfires.

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

  • Use your battery-operated NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] 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 isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
  • Avoid contact with anything metal – tractors, farm equipment, 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.



A tornado is a violently rotating column of air, pendant from a cumuliform cloud or underneath a cumuliform cloud, and often (but not always) visible as a funnel cloud. Literally, in order for a vortex to be classified as a tornado, it must be in contact with the ground and the cloud base.

Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood 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. Every state is at some risk from this hazard. Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while rain or nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others. 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 Severe Weather 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 & Extreme Cold

Winter Storms & 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 [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] ) 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.

Classroom Preparedness

Faculty and Teaching Assistants (TAs [Teaching Assistants] ) should have a plan for emergencies and be ready to implement it at any time. Your students will look to you for leadership and advice. Share your plan with your students at least once, preferably at the beginning of the semester.

  • Have a list of all students in the class.
  • Identify emergency exits and evacuation routes and make them known at the beginning of the semester.
  • Always evacuate during fire alarms.
  • Identify a meeting location near the building and account for all evacuated occupants. Report anyone who is missing to public safety officials as soon as possible.
  • For a dangerous situation that requires you to get far away quickly —e.g., an active shooter— identify a second meeting location that is far from the building. You can also instruct students to scatter or return to their colleges, schools, or home.
  • Advise students who need assistance evacuating-whether they have a permanent or temporary special need-to review the Special Needs Guidelines and develop an emergency plan.
  • Explain shelter-in-place procedures at least once during the semester.
  • If your classroom is not a good place to shelter in place, identify other more suitable spaces nearby.


If you ask your students to turn off their phones during class, make sure that at least yours is accessible to receive UTDAlert messages.

During an Emergency

  • Call 911 or the UTD Police at 972.883.2222. Do not assume someone else has called.
  • Follow instructions provided to you via UTDAlert and Public Safety officials.
  • Try to remain calm and give clear instructions to help students quickly and quietly assist in responding to the emergency.
  • Use your judgment when determining the course of action.

Laboratory Preparedness

Faculty, Teaching Assistants (TAs [Teaching Assistants] ), PIs [Principal Investigators] , and lab managers should have a plan for emergencies and be ready to implement it at any time. Your students or employees will look to you for leadership and advice. Share your plan with them at least once, preferably at the beginning of the semester.

  • Have a list of all who work in the lab (students, faculty, staff).
  • Identify emergency exits, evacuation routes, meeting locations, shelter-in-place locations, and scatter locations and make them known to all who work in the lab.
  • Have procedures in place to ensure that researchers and lab employees can leave at a moment’s notice.
  • Never remain in your lab during a fire alarm or any emergency that requires immediate evacuation.
  • People working in labs should keep their phone ringers “on” so that they can receive UTDAlert notifications. If that is not possible, lab managers and PIs [Principal Investigators] need to determine how others in the lab will receive emergency notifications.
  • Develop a shelter-in-place procedure. Look to see how you can lock and secure your lab. If it is not a good place to shelter in place, identify other more suitable spaces nearby.
  • If the lab covers multiple spaces, develop a plan for each location and determine the best way to communicate during an emergency. Having a group text or group e-mail prepared in advance is helpful for sending messages to your lab.
  • If possible given the situation and life safety, turn off any open flames or hot plates after securing the lab. Immediately proceed to the designated evacuation or shelter-in-place location within the lab or other identified location in your plan.


If you ask your students to turn off their phones during class, make sure that at least yours is accessible to receive UTDAlert messages.

During an Emergency

  • Call 911 or the UTD Police at 972.883.2222. Do not assume someone else has called.
  • Follow instructions provided to you via UTDAlert and Public Safety officials.
  • Try to remain calm and give clear instructions to help students quickly and quietly assist in responding to the emergency.
  • Use your judgment when determining the course of action.

Continuity Planning and Recovery Guide for Laboratories and Research Facilities (PDF [Portable Document Format File] )

Department Safety and Emergency Plan

The Department Safety and Emergency Plan includes information on emergency notification, evacuation, sheltering, and lockdown. It is highly recommended that each department on campus completes a Department Safety and Emergency Plan and distributes the plan within the department. Once the plan has been completed internally, please send it to emergencymanagement@utdallas.edu.

Department Safety and Emergency Plan (PDF [Portable Document Format File] )

Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan

UT Dallas Office of Emergency Management maintains a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP [Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan] ) that meets local, state, and federal standards. The CEMP [Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan] describes the protocols, resources, response partners, and organizational structure to sustain an all-hazards approach and response on campus. The CEMP [Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan] is designed to obtain the swiftest, specialized emergency assistance for the protection of life and property at all UT Dallas campuses. The effectiveness of emergency and disaster response plans depends on high skill levels among all those who will execute the plans. This requires training and exercise, both within the University community and with external response partners.


UT Dallas voluntarily complies with federal standards of responder training. The Office of Emergency Management provides essential personnel with specialized training that encompasses their emergency response roles and responsibilities.

Training certificates must be sent to the Office of Emergency Management at emergencymanagement@utdallas.edu.


The Office of Emergency Management tests the CEMP [Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan] and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s [Standard Operating Procedures] ) in three ways—

  • Drills: The Office of Emergency Management provides support in fire drills every week. Fire drills are on a rotating schedule and each building will be tested at least once a year.
  • Exercises: Exercises test the CEMP [Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan] with internal and external stakeholders and identifies gaps and lessons learned in the plan. Once the exercise is over, the plan is reviewed and edited to reflect any issues or resolutions that may have occurred in the specific exercise.
  • Actual Events: When an unplanned incident such as severe weather or power outages occur, the CEMP [Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan] is activated and essential personnel are tested by the way they respond to the incident.

All Exercises and drills must be coordinated with the Office of Emergency Management.

Continuity Planning Tabletop Exercise

A Continuity Planning Tabletop Exercise is used to clarify roles and responsibilities, test continuity plans and procedures, and identify additional business continuity needs that may arise after a disruptive event occurs on campus. To ensure that departments are prepared for such disruptive events, the Department of Environmental Health and Safety, Office of Emergency Management has developed an online Continuity Planning Tabletop Exercise using eLearning. This exercise poses scenarios to departments that test different sections of their developed continuity plans. Please contact the Office of Emergency Management (emergencymanagement@utdallas.edu / 972.883.4111) if you are interested in participating in this exercise or meeting to develop a continuity plan.

SAFE Leader and Floor Monitor Program

SAFE Leader and Floor Monitor Program

In an emergency, SAFE Leaders aid in the safe and complete evacuation, or shelter in place, of their building and report injured and/or trapped persons to emergency responders; while Floor Monitors are responsible for warning building occupants to evacuate the building, or shelter in place, depending on the situation. Floor Monitors will then report the status of their floor to the SAFE Leader and/or first responders.

For more information or to sign up please contact us:

Find Your Building’s SAFE Leaders and Floor Monitors >>


Download the Emergency Management Internship Job Description (PDF [Portable Document Format File] ).

The University of Texas at Dallas is currently accepting applications for an internship. This competitive internship is open to any undergraduate or graduate student interested in the emergency management discipline, and is pursuing a degree to which this position may be relevant. The selected candidate will gain experience in higher education emergency management planning, have an opportunity to work with local government stakeholders and network with regional university emergency managers.

Incident Command System (ICS [National Incident Management System] ) training is required for University personnel with emergency response duties per the National Incident Management System (NIMS [National Incident Management System] ). Training requirements vary based on an individual’s role, but in general, IS-100 and IS-700 are required for all emergency response personnel. Those who report to the Emergency Operations Center are required to complete IS-100.HE, IS-200.b, IS-700.a and IS-800.b. For more specific guidance, please contact Emergency Management (972.883.4111 / [email protected]).

Notice: Independent Study Exams now require a FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] Student Identification (SID [Student Identification] ) Number. If you do not yet have an SID [Student Identification] , register for one today. Please do not contact the Independent Study program office; They are unable to provide assistance with these requests.

If you have an inquiry regarding the FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] Independent Study Program, NIMS [National Incident Management System] or other Emergency Management Institute (EMI [Emergency Management Institute] ) related requests such as: certificates, transcripts, online test scores/results, please contact the FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] Independent Study program office ([email protected] / 301.447.1200) for further assistance. Please do not contact the FEMA SID [Federal Emergency Management Agency Student Identification] Help Desk; They are unable to provide assistance with these requests.

IS-100.HE: Introduction to the Incident Command System for Higher Education

ICS 100.HE, Introduction to the Incident Command System for Higher Education, introduces the Incident Command System (ICS [Incident Command System] ) and provides the foundation for higher level ICS [Incident Command System] training. This course describes the history, features and principles, and organizational structure of ICS [Incident Command System] . It also explains the relationship between ICS [Incident Command System] and the National Incident Management System (NIMS [National Incident Management System] ). This course uses the same objectives and content as other ICS [Incident Command System] courses with higher education examples and exercises.

IS-200.b: ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents

ICS 200.b is designed to enable personnel to operate efficiently during an incident or event within the Incident Command System (ICS [Incident Command System] ). ICS-200 provides training on and resources for personnel who are likely to assume a supervisory position within the ICS [Incident Command System] .

IS-700.a: National Incident Management System (NIMS), an Introduction

This course introduces and overviews the National Incident Management System (NIMS [National Incident Management System] ). NIMS [National Incident Management System] provides a consistent nationwide template to enable all government, private-sector, and nongovernmental organizations to work together during domestic incidents..

IS-800.b: National Response Framework, an Introduction

This course is currently being reviewed and revised to incorporate new information from the recently revised National Response Framework. This course will remain available for completion until the revised course is implemented.

These courses may be completed by taking the course online. A link to each course is listed above. To pass, you must make at least a 75% on the test. You only have to pass each course once. Please send a copy of your certificate to [email protected] for credit.