Think You Won’t Be Affected by Tornados? Think Again.

Take tornado preparedness seriously, even if you don’t have many in your region.

Last year, we had a number of clients who felt that tornado preparedness was not important for their campus organizations because tornadoes were pretty rare in their areas of the country.  In each case, the organization did not have any tornado protocol in their plans and had not conducted any tornado sheltering drills. The organizations had personnel on their planning teams who were insistent that it would be a waste of time to plan for this type of event.  Within weeks of two of these meetings, tornadoes struck homes within a few miles of our meeting locations.

We have not had any such discussions with planning teams since the horrific tornado strikes several months ago, but the same type of reaction for other hazards has occurred with other teams.  This is quite understandable and is part of human nature that campus safety planning teams must confront on a regular basis.  Seeking balance between alarmist paranoia and the “it will never happen here” attitude is a constant obstacle faced by campus safety professionals.

As the accompanying photo shows, a tornado can wreak havoc on campus buildings.  Other hazards can also result in devastation when they are overlooked in the planning process. The field of emergency management has provided us with an excellent approach to reduce the chances that deadly categories of events will be overlooked. The hazard and vulnerability assessment approach is designed to help campus safety stakeholders discover the variety of threats they should address in preparedness planning. The approach is not a new one but is still not always utilized. 

Those in positions of leadership for campus emergency preparedness efforts cannot afford to discard the proven strategies that are designed to prevent catastrophic plan failure.

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About the Author


Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a global non profit campus safety center. During his 30 year campus safety career, Michael has served as a university police officer, corporal, sergeant and lieutenant. He served as a school system police chief for ten years before being appointed the lead expert for the nation's largest state government K-20 school safety center. The author of 25 books on school safety, his work has taken him to Central America, Mexico, Canada, Europe, Asia, South Africa and the Middle East. Michael welcomes comments, questions or requests for clarification at [email protected]. Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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