In the event of severe weather or tornado, all staff, students and visitors on campus should seek an immediate safe area.  People outside may also hear the city’s emergency sirens.   Persons inside of buildings on all OTC Campuses and Education Centers will be notified via the OTC Telephone Alert System.  Fire alarms will not be used for severe storms or tornado warnings because people will evacuate buildings and not seek safe areas if the fire alarm is activated.

The best safe area is interior hallways in the center of buildings on the lowest level floor. Hallways that open to the south or west should be avoided since storms usually come from the south or west. Avoid auditoriums and other spaces with wide, free-span roofs, also avoid rooms with windows. Remember time is of the essence. People on upper levels may not have time to get to the lowest level floor. If too many people try to go down stairways to the lowest level floor, they may cause jams or be stuck in open areas when a tornado strikes. If there is not time to leave upper level floors, seek an immediate safe area in interior hallways or classrooms in the center of the building on the floor you are on. Avoid hallways that open to the south or west. Once in your safe area, face the wall, crouch down and cover your head for protection. If you seek a safe area in an interior room, try to get under sturdy tables or desks for protection. Safety and Security will advise when it is clear to leave your safe area.

Instructors and students seeking a safe area outside of their classroom should close classroom doors. Instructors should carry a class roster or other means of student accountability with them.

As long as it is safe to do so, staff, students and visitors should remain in their safe area until the “ALL CLEAR” is given by Safety and Security. Safety and Security will advise when it is safe to return to the classroom or work station. If it is not safe, a location will be given for people to go to.

Once the “ALL CLEAR” is given, instructors and supervisors shall account for all their students or subordinates. Instructors and supervisors shall report the name of any unaccounted for or injured student or subordinate to the director of their building or his/her designee; they, in turn, shall notify Safety and Security at 447-6911. If the phone system isn’t working, a runner may be used for notification.

In the event of a tornado or severe storm where there is considerable property damage or injury, usage of the telephone system should be kept to a minimum. The switchboard could become overwhelmed with inquires about staff, students and visitors.

Please refer to “Crises Guides” posted in all classrooms, labs and at various locations throughout the campus for safe area locations.

All inquires about property damage or injury should be directed to the Public Information Office at 417-447-2655.

For information or questions about this procedure, please contact the director of Safety and Security at 417-447-6985.

Explanation of Warnings

According to the National Weather Service, the following definitions address severe weather watches and warnings.

  • Tornado Watch – Conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms producing tornadoes in and close to the watch area in the next 12 hours.
  • Tornado Warning – Radar or satellite indication and/or reliable spotter reports of a tornado.


A violently rotating column of air in contact with the ground and coming from a thunderstorm.

If your area is threatened by a tornado, the main thing to remember is to save life, not possessions. Time is of the essence. You may only have time to duck under a sturdy table or get into a sturdy interior hallway.