Severe Weather and Other Natural Disasters

This Policy is designed to assist Suffolk University in responding to severe weather or other natural disasters, and maintaining services when severe weather or other natural disasters occur, that may prevent employees or students from entering or leaving the University for an extended period of time.

In the event that weather or other emergency conditions warrant the all-day closing, delayed opening or early closure of the University, where to go for the information is located on the University Cancellation and Delays page.

Definitions

  • A Natural Disaster is any natural event in which the University may be put in jeopardy (i.e.: major flood, blizzard, earthquake, hurricane or tornado)
  • A Watch is issued by the National Weather Service when weather conditions are favorable for the development of a certain type of hazardous weather, such as flooding, severe thunderstorms, hurricanes, or tornadoes. When a watch is issued, begin making plans and preparations for the possibility of hazardous weather. This includes monitoring the media for the latest weather information.
  • A Warning is issued by the National Weather Service when the hazardous weather is actually happening or imminent. When a warning is issued, the Incident Support Team may be notified and the campus community may be notified via the Emergency Messaging System. If safe to do so, monitor the media for the latest weather information.

General Responses to Severe Weather and other Natural Disasters

  • Unplug all unnecessary equipment and appliances, including sensitive electrical instruments, shut down then unplug computers
  • Store all important items and equipment in safe areas away from windows; keep windows, curtains and blinds closed
  • When conditions warrant, move away from windows, and instruct others to do the same
  • Seek appropriate shelter. The lowest possible level is usually the safest during a tornado. If unable to relocate to a lower level, put as many walls as possible between yourself and exterior building windows. Examples are interior stairwells, hallways, rooms, bathrooms or corridors
  • If instructed to evacuate, follow evacuation procedures
  • If safe to do so, contact your supervisor upon leaving your department
  • In the event that weather or other emergency conditions warrant the all-day closing, delayed opening or early closure of the University, announcements will be made via the University's Emergency Messaging System; no school closing notifications will be made before 5:30 a.m. School closing information will also be posted on the website.
  • In the event that weather or other emergency conditions warrant the all-day closing, delayed opening or early closure of the University, announcements will be made on the following radio and television stations, and websites:
  • Please call 617-573-8262 for updated messages. Do not call the University Police Department, switchboard, administrative offices, radio, or television stations to verify University closing.

General Steps to Take After Severe Weather and other Natural Disasters Occur

  • Remain calm and check for injuries
  • Report injuries and damage to the Suffolk University Police Department via 8111 or 617-573-8111, then Risk Management at extension 8611 or 617-573-8611, or riskmanagement@suffolk.edu. If not possible to call, then notify in person if safe to do so
  • Access the Suffolk website for updated information as it becomes available
  • Leave the buildings if they have been impacted by the weather or you smell gas or chemical fumes and notify the Suffolk University Police Department via 8111 or 617-573-8111. If not possible to call, then notify in person if safe to do so
  • If outdoors, watch for downed power lines and possible falling debris
  • Do not enter damaged buildings. Return only when campus officials deem the building(s) to be safe
  • The Suffolk University Police Department will control access to affected areas, and in conjunction with Risk Management, will make evaluations to determine if further actions are warranted
  • Report all power outages and problems with phones and other utilities to the Suffolk University Police Department via 8111 or 617-573-8111. If not possible to call, then notify in person when it is safe to do so
  • Do not use matches, lighters or other open flames in case of leaking natural gas

Earthquakes

What to Do During an Earthquake

Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake. Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and if you are indoors, stay there until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe. Be prepared for aftershocks.

If Indoors

  • DROP to the floor
  • COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture
  • HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building
  • Do not run outside
  • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture
  • Wheelchair users: apply the chair’s brake and cover your head with your arms
  • Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place
  • Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave
  • Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may activate
  • DO NOT use the elevators

If Outdoors

  • Stay there
  • Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires
  • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects

If In a Vehicle

  • Stop as quickly as safety permits 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 might have been damaged by the earthquake

If Trapped Under Debris

  • Do not light a match
  • Do not move about or kick up dust
  • Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing

What to do After an Earthquake

  • After the shaking stops, check for injuries and administer first aid if necessary and if qualified. DO NOT move victims unless absolutely necessary
  • Report injuries and damage to the Suffolk University Police Department via 8111 or 617-573-8111, then Risk Management at extension 8611 or 617-573-8611, or by email. If not possible to call, then notify in person if safe to do so
  • Upon notification by emergency personnel, evacuate the building to your designated assembly area. DO NOT use the elevators. Bring emergency supplies, warm clothing and purses/wallets with you; close all doors behind you
  • Replace telephone handsets that have been shaken off. DO NOT use telephones except to report fires or medical emergencies
  • DO NOT use matches, lighters or other open flames
  • Assist persons with disabilities
  • Notify emergency personnel as soon as possible of the location of anyone unable to evacuate the building
  • DO NOT return to an evacuated building unless directed to do so by emergency personnel
  • DO NOT enter a parking structure until you are told it is safe by emergency personnel
  • Be prepared for AFTERSHOCKS
  • Access www.suffolk.edu for updated information as it becomes available. If outdoors, watch for downed power lines and possible falling debris
  • DO NOT enter damaged buildings. Return only when campus officials deem the building(s) to be safe
  • The Suffolk University Police Department will control access to affected areas, and in conjunction with Risk Management, will make evaluations to determine if further actions are warranted

Hurricanes

The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June to November, with the peak season from mid-August to late October. Hurricanes can cause catastrophic damage to coastlines and several hundred miles inland. Hurricane can produce winds exceeding 155 miles per hour as well as tornadoes and mircrobursts. Additionally, hurricanes can create storm surges along the coast and cause extensive damage from heavy rainfall. Floods and flying debris from the excessive winds are often the deadly and destructive results of these weather events. Flash flooding can occur due to intense rainfall.

Know the Terms

Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a hurricane hazard:

  • Hurricane: A tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface wind (using the U.S. 1-minute average) is 74 mph (64 knots) or more.
  • Hurricane Warning: An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.
  • Hurricane Watch: An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible within the specified area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.

Before a Hurricane

To prepare for a hurricane, you should take the following measures:

  • To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Know your surroundings.
  • Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
  • Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Another year-round option would be installation of laminated glass with impact-resistant glazing. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
  • If in a high-rise building, when high winds are present, be prepared to take shelter on a lower floor because wind conditions increase with height, and in a small interior room without windows. When flooding may be occurring, be prepared to take shelter on a floor safely above the flooding and wave effects.

During a Hurricane

If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:

  • Listen to the radio or TV for information.
  • Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
  • Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
  • Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
  • Close all interior doors – secure and brace external doors.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm – winds will pick up again.
  • Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
  • Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
  • Avoid elevators.

After a Hurricane

  • Continue listening to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates.
  • Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
  • If you have become separated from your family, use your family communications plan or contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS/1-800-733-2767 or visit the American Red Cross Safe and Well site.
  • If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
  • Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges. Stay off the streets. If you must go out watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks.
  • Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
  • Stay out of any building if you smell gas, floodwaters remain around the building.
  • Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles.
  • Watch your pets closely and keep them under your direct control.
  • Report injuries and damage to the Suffolk University Police Department via 8111 or 617-573-8111, then Risk Management at extension 8611 or 617-573-8611, or by email. If not possible to call, then notify in person if safe to do so
  • Access the Suffolk website for updated information as it becomes available. If outdoors, watch for downed power lines and possible falling debris
  • DO NOT enter damaged buildings. Return only when campus officials deem the building(s) to be safe
  • The Suffolk University Police Department will control access to affected areas, and in conjunction with Risk Management, will make evaluations to determine if further actions are warranted

Tornadoes

What to Do During a Tornado

If indoors

  • Go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside 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
  • In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible
  • Put on sturdy shoes
  • Do not open windows

If outdoors with no shelter

  • 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
  • Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible
  • If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands
  • 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 most fatalities and injuries

If trapped under debris

  • Do not light a match
  • Do not move about or kick up dust
  • Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust

What to Do After a Tornado

  • After the tornado passes, check for injuries and administer first aid if necessary and if qualified. DO NOT move victims unless absolutely necessary
  • Report injuries and damage to the Suffolk University Police Department via 8111 or 617-573-8111, then Risk Management at extension 8611 or 617-573-8611, or by email. If not possible to call, then notify in person if safe to do so
  • Upon notification by emergency personnel, evacuate a damaged building to your designated assembly site. DO NOT use the elevators. Bring emergency supplies, warm clothing and purses/wallets with you; close all doors behind you
  • Replace telephone handsets that have been shaken off. DO NOT use telephones except to report fires or medical emergencies
  • DO NOT use matches, lighters or other open flames
  • Assist persons with disabilities
  • Notify emergency personnel as soon as possible of the location of anyone unable to evacuate the building
  • DO NOT return to an evacuated building unless directed to do so by emergency personnel
  • DO NOT enter a parking structure until you are told it is safe by emergency personnel
  • Access the Suffolk website for updated information as it becomes available. If outdoors, watch for downed power lines and possible falling debris. DO NOT enter damaged buildings. Return only when campus officials deem the building(s) to be safe. The Suffolk University Police Department will control access to affected areas, and in conjunction with Risk Management, will make evaluations to determine if further actions are warranted

Winter Storms & Extreme Cold

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. It is important to be prepared for winter weather before it strikes.

Know the Terms

Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a winter storm hazard:

  • Freezing Rain - Rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees and power lines.
  • Sleet - Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.
  • Winter Storm Watch - A winter storm is possible in your area. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for more information.
  • Winter Storm Warning - A winter storm is occurring or will soon occur in your area.
  • Blizzard Warning - Sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 miles per hour or greater and considerable amounts of falling or blowing snow (reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile) are expected to prevail for a period of three hours or longer.

Before Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

To prepare for a winter storm you should do the following:

  • Make a Family Communications Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS). Be alert to changing weather conditions.
  • Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
  • Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather.

During Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

  • Stay indoors during the storm.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy, walkways.
  • 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.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite. These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.
  • 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.

After Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

  • Continue to protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.
  • Report injuries and damage to the Suffolk University Police Department via 8111 or 617-573-8111, then Risk Management at extension 8611 or 617-573-8611, or by email. If not possible to call, then notify in person if safe to do so
  • Access the Suffolk website for updated information as it becomes available.
  • DO NOT enter damaged buildings. Return only when campus officials deem the building(s) to be safe
  • The Suffolk University Police Department will control access to affected areas, and in conjunction with Risk Management, will make evaluations to determine if further actions are warranted