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Hazards

Natural disasters such as tornadoes, thunderstorms, and winter storms may impact campus at any given time. It is important to recognize the difference between the following weather definitions:

  • Watch – Conditions are favorable for the development of severe weather. Closely monitor the situation.
  • Warning – Severe weather has been observed. Listen closely to instructions provided by officials. 

 In addition to natural hazards, the University of Richmond has the potential for impact from human-caused events such as an active shooter or hazardous materials incident. 

What to do in an Emergency

Earthquakes

An earthquake is the sudden, rapid shaking of the earth, caused by the breaking and shifting of subterranean rock as it releases strain that has accumulated over a long time. An earthquake and its terrible aftereffects is one of the most frightening and destructive phenomena of nature.

What to Do

If indoors:

  • DROP to your hands and knees.
  • DO NOT get in a doorway.
  • DO NOT try and run outside.
  • Take COVER under the sturdiest object available.
  • HOLD ON until the shaking stops.
  • Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside.
  • DO NOT use the elevators.
  • Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.

If outdoors:

  • If you can, 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.

For additional information about what to do before, during, and after an earthquake. visit http://www.ready.gov/earthquakes .

Tornado

Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, a tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a storm 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.

What to Do

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

  • Tornado Watch - Tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and stay tuned to UR Alerts, NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.
  • Tornado Warning - A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.

Campus buildings have designated tornado shelter locations. These shelters are not “tornado proof” but are the best available area in the building for sheltering. Look for gray and black shelter signs.

If a tornado warning is issued:

  • TAKE SHELTER immediately in designated shelter locations. Classes are suspended for the duration of a tornado warning.
  • If shelter is not available, move to the center and lowest portion of the building.
  • Stay away from windows and doors.
  • Cover your head with any available heavy or bulky object to protect yourself.
  • DO NOT go outdoors to see the storm.
  • There is no “all-clear.” The danger has passed when the Outdoor Warning System silences.

For additional information about what to do before, during, and after a tornado, visit http://www.ready.gov/tornadoes.

Winter Storms

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 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.

What to Do

Since there is typically ample warning with an impending winter storm, you will receive information and instructions from the Office of Emergency Management as the storm approaches the area.

For additional information about what to do before, during, and after a winter storm, visit http://www.ready.gov/winter-weather.

Floods

Floods are one of the most common hazards; however, not all floods are alike. Some floods develop slowly, while others such a 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.

What to Do

Floods are one of the most common hazards; 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.

  • When a flash flood warning is issued, MOVE to higher ground quickly. You may only have seconds to act.
  • TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN! Most flash flood deaths occur when people drive their vehicles into flood waters. Be especially cautious at night, when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
  • STAY OUT of flooded areas. Water may still be rising, is usually very swift, and can quickly sweep you off your feet.

For additional information about what to do before, during, and after a flood, visit http://www.ready.gov/floods.

Thunderstorms and 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.  Other associated dangers of thunderstorms include tornadoes, strong winds, hail and flash flooding.

What to Do

All thunderstorms are dangerous. Every thunderstorm produces lightning. Other associated dangers of thunderstorms include tornadoes, strong winds, hail, and flash flooding.

  • If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning. WHEN THUNDER ROARS, GO INDOORS!
  • Stay away from telephones, electrical appliances, and plumbing. 

For additional information about what to do before, during, and after a thunderstorm, visit http://www.ready.gov/thunderstorms-lightning.

Hurricane

A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone or severe tropical storm that forms in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June to November, with the peak season from mid-August to late October. A hurricane can produce winds exceeding 155 miles per hour as well as tornadoes and mircrobursts. Additionally, hurricanes can 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.

What to Do

Since there is typically ample warning with an impending hurricane, you will receive information and instructions from the Office of Emergency Management as the storm approaches the area.

For additional information about what to do before, during, and after a hurricane, visit http://www.ready.gov/hurricanes.

Active Shooter/Dangerous Person

The University of Richmond works hard to protect you and campus, but sometimes bad people do bad things. Their motivations are different and the warning signs may vary, but the devastating effects are the same. Unfortunately you need to be prepared for the worst. Know that in an incident like this, victims are generally chosen randomly, the event is unpredictable and may evolve quickly. The first responders on scene are not there to evacuate or tend to the injured. They are well trained and are there to stop the suspect.  Your actions can make a difference for your safety and survival. Be aware and be prepared. Your survival may depend on whether or not you have a plan. The plan doesn’t have to be complicated. There are three things you could do:  Run.  Hide.  Fight.

What to Do

If a person enters or threatens to enter the building with the intention of causing physical violence to either persons or property:

  • RUN. First and foremost, if you can get out, do. Encourage others to leave with you, but don’t let them slow you down. Leave your belongings behind.
    • Once you are out of danger, try to prevent others from walking into the danger zone and call 911.
  • If you can’t get out safely, find a place to HIDE. Act quickly and quietly. Try and secure your hiding place the best you can. Do your best to remain quiet and calm.
    • Turn out lights
    • Silence both the ringer and vibration mode on your phone
    • If possible, remember to lock the door
    • Try to conceal yourself behind large objects that may protect you.
  • As a last resort, if your life is at risk, FIGHT. Act with aggression. Improvise weapons. 

Using the Emergency Notification System, the University, whenever possible, will notify the campus community of the location or area of the active shooter/dangerous person. Individuals should use the information provided by the University to determine the appropriate course of action and/or direction to run. 

For additional information about surviving an active shooter/dangerous person situation check out the Run, Hide, Fight video.

Fire

Fire spreads quickly; there is no time to gather valuables or make a phone call. In just two minutes, a fire can become life-threatening. In five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames.

Heat and smoke from fire can be more dangerous than the flames. Inhaling the super-hot air can sear your lungs. Fire produces poisonous gases that make you disoriented and drowsy. Instead of being awakened by a fire, you may fall into a deeper sleep. Asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a three-to-one ratio.

What to Do

Immediate Actions

  • EVACUATE the area immediately.
    • Close all doors as you leave.
    • If it does not delay your evacuation, take keys and medications with you.
    • Notify others around you as you leave.
    • If able, assist persons with functional needs during evacuation.
  • ACTIVATE the closest fire alarm along your evacuation route.
  • DO NOT use elevators.
  • DIAL 911 and report the emergency after you are safely out of the building.
  • Only return to the building when notified by UR Alert, emergency responders, or university administrators.

Fire or smoke present

  • DO NOT open any door that feels hot. Use the back of your hand to check the door.  
  • CRAWL under smoke, by staying low to the floor.

If you are trapped and cannot evacuate

  • Close any doors between you and the fire.
  • If available, wedge towels or cloth materials along the bottom of the door.
  • Dial 911 and notify the dispatcher of your location.
  • Remain on the phone with the 911 dispatcher as long as possible.
  • Cautiously break a window, only as a last resort.

Extinguishing Small Fires

You may attempt to extinguish a fire with a portable fire extinguisher ONLY IF:

  • You are properly trained;
  • 911 has been dialed;
  • The fire alarm has been activated; AND
  • The fire is trash can-sized or smaller.

University-specific Fire Safety Information from the Office of Risk Management and Safety Services.

For additional information about fires and fire prevention as well as and what to do before, during, and after, visit http://www.ready.gov/home-fires.

Hazardous Materials Incident

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 stored in homes routinely. 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.  Hazardous materials come in the form of explosives, flammable and combustible substances, poisons and radioactive materials.

What to Do

  • Never attempt to contain or clean up a hazardous material release unless you are trained to do so.
  • Alert those in the vicinity and evacuate the area.
  • Close all doors as you leave.
  • DIAL 911 to report the release when you reach a safe location.
  • Provide as much information as possible to the dispatcher, including identify and amount of the chemical released, specific location, hazards and any known injuries.
  • Warn others not to enter the area.
  • Do NOT re-enter the building until told it is safe to do so by UR Alert, emergency personnel, or university administrators.

If you are notified of a hazardous material incident

  • Follow instructions provide by the UR Alert and emergency responders.
  • Avoid the area of the release until given an “all clear message.

Material Safety Data Sheets: http://www.msds.com/

For additional information about what to do before, during, and after a hazardous materials incident, visit http://www.ready.gov/hazardous-materials-incidents.

Dave McCoy
AVP Public Safety, Chief of Police
(804) 289-8718

Brittany Schaal
Director, Emergency Management
(804) 289-8855


UR Emergency Hotline
(804) 289-8760, (866) 386-0403

UR Police, emergency
(804) 289-8911 (911 on campus)

UR Police, non-emergency
(804) 289-8715

UR Switchboard
(804) 289-8000