Be ready for tornadoes

Illustration of a man holding a red umbrella with a tornado on top of it

Tornado season is upon us, and each of us has a responsibility to protect ourselves, our patients, and co-workers should UT Southwestern be impacted by a tornado. Tornadoes are a threat to us because we may or may not have much lead time to prepare ahead of an impact; thus, all employees must be aware of tornado risks, terminology, and response.

What can I do to protect myself and my loved ones?

  • Make a family disaster plan.
  • Get prepared. Take an inventory of emergency items to make sure you have everything needed to survive at least five days.
  • Create a family survival kit for your home. While provides a good starting point, each family is unique and has different needs, so adjust the contents of your kit accordingly.
  • Identify safe shelter areas in your home and workplace. Read FEMA's guide on creating a safe shelter.
  • Keep a “go bag” in your vehicle at all times; you never know when it may come in handy.

While at work

  • Familiarize yourself with your department’s EOP (DEOP). DEOPs include response actions for different threats, including tornadoes. If you’re unsure if your department has an emergency operations plan or are unfamiliar with its contents, please consult with your supervisor or department leader.
  • Understand the tornado notifications and what they mean. Watch this video that uses tacos to explain the difference between watches and warnings.
  • Stay alert and be on the lookout for phone, email, and siren alerts.

Tornado Notifications

The following table outlines how UTSW will communicate tornado watches, warnings, and expirations. These notifications will be disseminated via UTSW Alert, so every employee must maintain accurate contact information in their PeopleSoft profiles.

Event Notification Name Recipients Distribution Mode
Tornado watch in effect Tornado Watch All active UTSW personnel Email
Tornado warning in effect Tornado Warning Employees of affected locations
All active UTSW personnel (if main campus)
Text, email, phone, business phone 
Tornado warning expiration (watch still in effect) Tornado Warning Termination Same as Tornado Warning Text, email, phone, business phone
Tornado wath expiration All Clear All active UTSW personnel Email

Please note:

  • These notifications apply to all UTSW locations, including regional clinics and off-site facilities.
  • The Tornado Watch notification will include preparatory actions. Once notified, immediately begin implementing these actions in anticipation of a warning. Do not wait for further instructions!
  • Issuance of the Tornado Warning Termination should not be interpreted as an “All Clear/Return to Normal Operations.” This only means employees should still maintain a heightened state of awareness and be prepared to re-implement shelter procedures should the situation deteriorate.

Outdoor Sirens

All main campus outdoor sirens are controlled by the city of Dallas and can be activated for many reasons, such as tornadoes, high winds, hailstorms, or severe thunderstorms. Activation of outdoor sirens should warrant shelter actions only if a tornado warning is in effect.

Any general questions on DEOPs or tornado response should be directed to the Emergency Management and Business Continuity Team (