In light of the recent thunderstorm this past weekend, this weather anomaly may provide insights for students to be made more aware of what to do in the case of an evacuation.
Information is out there for people who want to know. Evacuation plan maps are posted in every building, and professors provide plans in their syllabi. Additionally, there is a page on the UCA website with evacuation plans for each building on campus and an overview map of where to go.
These plans are listed on the Emergency Procedures Summaries page. These are great resources for both students and faculty.
However, oftentimes students don’t pay any attention to these plans until an evacuation actually occurs. Because of this, if an evacuation actually does take place, students may not know where to go or what to do.
This lack of knowledge can especially be apparent in the aftermath of a severe storm like the one on April 13.
For example, in The Echo’s article “Carmichael Hall damaged in severe storms” from this issue, freshman Alyssa Burke said she encountered misinformation regarding the state of her room and had some difficulty the next day with finding housing.
Additionally, residence halls have fire drills once a month. However, residents aren’t told what to do in the case of an actual evacuation.
Residents are often told to go to the first floor of the building in the case of a tornado or thunderstorm warning, but if the resident doesn’t know the difference between a watch and a warning, even this information can become confusing.
According to the National Weather Service, a watch means there is potential for the weather event because conditions are ripe for one. A warning means a weather event, such as a tornado or extreme thunderstorm, has been spotted.
Therefore, people aren’t prompted to take safety measures during a watch, but are prompted to do so during a warning.
If Housing and Residence Life offered more tornado drills alongside the regular fire drills and, during these drills, informed students where to go in case of a watch, warning and possible evacuation, this would help.
However, students also need to take responsibility and make themselves more aware of the signs and the information that is already available.
Public Relations and Information Officer Michael Hopper said there are four buildings on campus with basements where students and residents can go in the case of a tornado or severe thunderstorm warning.
“There are four buildings across campus that we’ve designated shelter areas for housing as well as the apartment complexes: the basement of Burdick, the basement of Lewis Science Center, the basement of Old Main and the basement of the Student Center,” Hopper said.
Maybe if these were included on campus tours freshman year, students would be better informed. Or maybe if students explored these areas on their own when they had the time, it would help them be better prepared in the case of a tornado warning.
This would also help students who happen to be outside of campus buildings know where to go when a warning is issued.
People need to prepare themselves before severe weather strikes.