Survey Provides Info on Tornado Preparedness and Response Awareness at JLab

Survey Provides Info on Tornado Preparedness and Response Awareness at JLab

Thanks to the 200 members of the Jefferson Lab community who completed the survey after the Tornado Drill held on March 20, 2012. Here is what we learned:

  • 76% of the staff participated in the drill while 40% participated in a pre-drill discussion.
  • 100% of the participants knew in advance of when the drill was to take place.
  • 86% of the participants received some type of notification(s) when the drill started.
  • 75% of the participants stated that the JLab's methods of notification (e.g. Tornado siren, page, e-mail or weather radio) were adequate.
  • 60% were notified by one or more of the following: siren, email, text page, a co-worker and/or a supervisor.
  • 73% of the participants recognized the tone of the siren and knew to take cover.
  • 98% of the participants knew where to take cover and 86% believed the location was adequate. 92% knew to look at building evacuation maps to locate a take cover location.
  • 80% of the participants stated they did not witness any confusion during the drill.
  • 59% did not know how to be accounted for after the drill.
  • 89% stated that the drill was helpful.

Problem areas needing an explanation and/or action:
Problem- Notifications were not consistent.
Action- All desk phones at the lab are being replaced with the Voice over IP phones. Once completed, the phones will be used for audible and scrolling messages. A limited test of this new capability is being planned for later this year. Information will be provided to the lab community in advance of the test. For more information visit:
Problem- Some of the evacuation maps do not provide the best take cover location. The map layout can be confusing.
Action- All evacuation maps will be reviewed and changed as needed for improvement.
Problem- Confusion of the purpose and function of the Rescue Alert System in the ARC and TED building stairwells.
Action- A sign will be added at each location with a brief explanation of the Rescue Alert System.
Problem- Personnel did not know what actions to take while taking cover and after the drill.
Action- The Tornado Preparedness ESH Manual chapter, SAF 100 and the Tornado ISM poster will be reviewed to ensure actions are stated.
Problem- The drill provided too much information (advance notice of date and time of drill) to really gauge the effectiveness of the Tornado procedure.
Action- This Tornado Drill was publicly announced statewide, so to prevent possible confusion, it was best for the lab to publicly announce the lab's participation. Future Tornado drills conducted at JLab  could be unannounced, like unannounced Fire Drills.


  • The Outdoor Warning Siren is designed to alert individuals who are outside working or those in transit between buildings.
  • It is an unintended benefit if personnel can hear the siren from within a structure. The primary purpose of the Outdoor Warning Siren is to notify individuals who are outdoors to take cover, immediately. You can listen to the siren by visiting the ES&H Manual, Chapter 3510 Appendix T3 Tornado Response Procedure at:
  • Opening or closing windows is absolutely useless, a waste of time and can be dangerous. If a tornado hits your location, it will blast the windows open anyway.
  • Close only the doors that are at your take cover location.
  • If in a vehicle, leave the vehicle for a sturdy building or drive out of the tornado's path. If time does not allow to get to a sturdy building or to get away, get out of the vehicle and lie flat in a low spot as far from the road as possible. Cover your head with your arms.
  • The safest room to take cover is an underground location or a basement. If a basement isn't available, go to the lowest, interior level possible; interior bathrooms, storage rooms, conference rooms or closets without windows are the best choices.
  • In a real tornado warning the CEBAF tunnel would immediately be dropped to restricted access and personnel would be able to enter through North and South access stairwells to take emergency shelter.
  • Flying debris is the greatest danger in tornadoes, so cover your head by getting under a stairwell, desk or work bench. If nothing is available crouch down and cover your head with your arms.
  • Stay off elevators.
  • Weather radios are maintained by the area Safety Warden.

A tornado is capable of taking out the power to our phone lines or the power that runs to them. We need to be alert of the weather around us and to help those around us take the proper actions. Do not assume there is no tornado because the siren has not been activated. Things can happen fast; you need to be prepared to get to the safest place as quickly as possible. Help yourself and others by downloading weather aps to your phones or weather links on your emails. Take the time to read and understand all Jefferson Lab emergency related posters and emails that are sent out.
References used-
The NOAA Online Tornado FAQ

JLab ES&H Manual, Chapter 3510 Appendix T3 Tornado Response Procedure

The survey was conducted by compiled by Tina Menefee, Jefferson Lab's Emergency Manager.

content by
maintained by