Tornado Drills


The purpose of tornado drills is to provide shelter for the campus community during a tornado warning.  In these cases; faculty, staff and students should not evacuate the building since this may cause injury. During a tornado warning you only have a short amount of time to find shelter.  Advance planning and quick response are the keys to surviving this type of inclement weather.  The University values the safety of each individual and expects that people will take responsibility for safeguarding their welfare.  


  • "Severe Weather" - includes thunder, lighting, hail, wind and heavy rain
  • "Tornado" - a violently rotating column of air in contact with the ground
  • "Watch" - indicates that conditions are favorable for a particular type of weather to occur
  • "Warning" - indicates that a particular type of weather is, or will soon be, occurring


Effective March 30, 1998, House Bill (HB) 5237 amended the Michigan Fire Prevention Code, Act 207, P.A. 1941, as amended, Section 19 to require tornado drills in schools.  This new requirement applies to all schools, including state supported schools, colleges, universities and school dormitories.  Sec. 19 (3) now requires a minimum of two (2) tornado safety drills for each school year at the schools and facilities... These drills are for the purpose of preventing hazards and injuries in the event of severe weather. 


Responsibility for the planning and conducting of drills shall be assigned by the Risk Manager to competent persons qualified to exercise leadership.  A written record of all drills conducted should be maintained including a critique of the event.  This record should be maintained by the Risk Manager.  General Guidelines Drills shall include suitable procedures to make sure that all persons in the building, or all persons subject to the drill, actually participate.  If a tornado drill is considered merely as a routine exercise from which some persons may be excused, there is grave danger that in an actual tornado, the drill will fail in its intended purpose.  All drills should be pre-planned and pre-announced.  Please go over the Tornado Drill Checklist before any pre-planned or pre-announced drill. 

Specified Occupancies

Educational Occupancies -- Academic and Administrative Buildings

  • All educational buildings on campus must hold two tornado drills, one in the spring and one in the fall, preferably during the first four weeks of the semester.  Faculty and staff shall work in cooperation with the Risk Manager in scheduling the drills before the semester begins.  Locations of tornado shelters are conspicuously posted in each classroom, and hallway to provide necessary information and ensure orderly movement through the building.  Signs should also specify that elevators must not be used to exit during a tornado drill.  Faculty and staff must be familiar with the tornado shelter locations and will assist students to these shelters.  Handicapped students should inform faculty or staff at the start of the semester of any special requirements with respect to procedures that will best facilitate those students. 

Residential Occupancies 

  • Residential facilities demonstrate the greatest need for adequate and effective tornado shelter awareness due to the potential loss of life.  Tornado drills in residences halls must be performed twice each year, one in the spring and one in the fall.  A major concern in residence hall tornado drills is the resistance of residents to go to the designated tornado shelters.  Resident Assistants (RAs), Residence Life Coordinators (RLCs) and other staff must take responsibility for the complete and orderly movement of the students through the building.  Education and awareness are key components to an effective tornado drill program.  Location of shelter in each apartment will help students to become more fully aware.  To be most effective, handicapped students should be required to move to tornado shelters during a tornado drill regardless of their location in the building.  Pre-planning is key for the handicapped person because their own familiarity with the tornado shelter locations, and the safest methods of egress is vital.  The handicapped person should also seek out buddies to assist.  On each floor of the facility, the resident staff should proceed down the hall knocking loudly on each door as they pass.  Staff should not unlock each door as this is time consuming and may result in danger to the staff person. 

Assembly Occupancies -- Student Activity Center (SAC)

  • Because actual tornado drills are not practical for places of non-continuous assembly where the students or public body changes with each program, employees or attendants of such places should be schooled in the duties they are to perform in case of a tornado drill or tornado warning.  An adequate number of competent attendants must be on duty when the assembly is occupancy is used.  Signs with directions for speedy and orderly egress should be posted.