Oklahoma State University

Earthquake Safety

For information on Earthquake Safety click here.

Severe Weather | Tornado

You are responsible for finding shelter in the event of a tornado. If you are on the main campus during a normal work day, the best places to seek shelter are in buildings with basements.

Monitor weather reports and go to these buildings when it begins to storm; if the sirens are sounding, it is too late to seek other shelter.

Unfortunately, taking pets into approved storm shelters is strongly discouraged because it limits the space available for citizens seeking shelter.

If the building you are in does not have a basement, go to the ground floor and enter an interior (windowless) room or hallway. It is too risky to go to another building once the sirens have sounded.

  • Shut off equipment that might be affected by a temporary loss of electricity.
  • Close hallway doors as you leave to shield the corridors from flying debris.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • Use telephones for emergency calls only.
  • Stay calm and alert.
  • If local radio is available, keep tuned to KOSU-FM (91.7 MHz), KSPI-FM (93.7 MHz), KVRO-FM (98.1 MHz) or KGFY-
  • FM (105.5 MHz) for storm details.
  • Dial 911 to report injuries and emergencies caused by the storm.
  • Call Physical Plant (744-7154) to report all damage.
  • There will not be an all clear signal from the alert sirens. Additional blasts indicate a new or renewed alert.
  • Report locations of trapped persons, making note of persons with injuries and/or disabilities.


Persons with Disabilities

Persons with disabilities who are mobility impaired must also make plans. If a power outage occurs during severe weather,
elevators may not work. Go to a small interior room or closet (or a landing in an interior stairwell); stay away from windows and exterior walls. Tell someone where you will be going and take a cell phone, if possible.

Tornado Tips

  • In the event of Tornadoes, basements generally offer the best protection. Otherwise go into an interior room (bathroom/shower) or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
  • Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside when possible.
  • Get under a piece of sturdy furniture, such as a workbench or heavy table or desk and hold on to it.
  • Avoid large open rooms, if possible.
  • Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head with your hands.
  • Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress , blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris and flying objects in case the roof and ceiling fail.
  • Faculty, staff, and/or students should remain at your chosen "Safe Area" location until advised that it is safe to return to their regular work or study area or to leave the building until the tornado or severe weather has passed and you have received an all clear via the local media.
  • Remember, there is no “all clear” siren activation. Weather, especially a severe storm, is unpredictable or the storm may have several lines of developing storms and as each approaching threat reaches the City, another siren notification may be sounded. I recommend you give serious consideration to using a portable battery operated radio “tuned to a local broadcast station” (KSPI FM-93.7, KSPI AM-780 DAYTIME ONLY, KVRO FM-101.1, KGFY FM-105.5, KOSU FM-91.7) to provide you with local warning information and to let you know when the severe weather has passed.

Campus Closing Information

The decision to close or delay opening the university due to inclement weather is made with the consultation of several groups, including input from the administration, student affairs, academic affairs, police, emergency operations, physical plant services and communications. When the administration of the university makes the decision to close all offices except those recognized as necessary to maintain essential services, or alters the campus schedule due to weather, the information will be posted to the OSU web site and a campus-wide message will be distributed through the Cowboy Alert system (text, voicemail, email) and social media. In addition, any decision will be communicated to university offices and state/local media. 

In normal circumstances, the Cowboy Alert system is not used to communicate that the campus is open, unless there has been an interruption in the campus schedule or pending weather conditions warrant release of information. In other words, the Cowboy Alert system is only used to communicate a campus closing or change in schedule. Social media, however, will be used for weather updates.

Each weather event is different and the decision to close or delay opening is based on how the conditions of area roads and the campus will impact the vast majority of students and employees. Students and employees are encouraged to use extreme caution during inclement weather. If they feel unsafe commuting to class or work, no matter how close or how far, they are encouraged to use their best judgment. Individual decisions do not exempt the employee or student from proper notification of an absence to a professor, advisor, supervisor or unit administrator.

Students can learn more about class attendance at http://academicaffairs.okstate.edu. More information for employees is available at http://hr.okstate.edu/incleweather.

Cold Weather

In bitterly cold weather, it is important to stay warm.  Hypothermia begins when your body temperature drops just two or three degrees and can occur after just 30 minutes of exposure.  Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, slurred speech, then loss of coordination and confusion.  This is a condition worse than frostbite and should be treated as soon as it becomes noticeable.

Frostnip, the least severe form of frostbite, affects areas that are exposed to the cold such as cheeks, nose, ears, fingers, and toes, leaving them red and numb or tingly.  Frostnip can be treated at home by immersing the chilled body parts in warm (not hot) water or use washcloths soaked in warm water, for 20 to 30 minutes until all sensation returns.  Call your doctor if sensation does not return or there are signs of frostbite.  One sign of frostbite is when flesh becomes red and very painful as it thaws.

  • If you must be outdoors, limit your exposure to 30 minutes each time.
  • Be careful when warming body areas numb from the cold—the numbness may prevent the person from realizing he or she is being burned.
  • Do not smoke or drink alcoholic beverages as these can interfere with blood circulation and actually slow down the warming process.
  • DO drink warm beverages—ones that contain sugar may be especially helpful.
  • Wear several light layers of clothing; when you go outdoors, cover all exposed skin and, if possible, wear mittens instead of gloves.  Wear two pairs of socks: the first pair should be of silk or a synthetic fiber that does not hold moisture; the second pair should be of wool.
  • Beware of black ice on streets and sidewalks.  Practically invisible, it can develop on dry pavement when condensation freezes in shaded areas.
  • If you are using a space heater to stay warm, be sure to put it where it can’t be tipped over and keep it away from papers, drapery, and hanging coats.  Don’t use an extension cord with a space heater.  Make sure the power cord is in good condition, doesn’t present a tripping hazard, and is not covered up.
  • Candles are not permitted on campus.  If you use them at home, never leave lit candles unattended.
  • To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, don’t use a gas-powered heater, or use a charcoal or gas grill indoors, and make sure the garage door is open before warming up your car.
  • If you have pets, bring them indoors or provide shelter to keep them warm and make sure they have access to unfrozen water