Severe Weather Policies & Guidelines

Severe Weather Procedures

To help prevent participants from injury severe weather, the following safety plan will be implemented for Campus Recreation programs. Please refer to the Athletic & Recreation Facilities Emergency Procedures Manual for specific building-related concerns.

Individuals with Mobility Impairments or Physical Disabilities
Campus Recreation employees are responsible for assisting individuals with disabilities. The elevator may be used to transport individuals with mobility impairments or physical disabilities and their escorts to safe shelters. Visually impaired and hearing impaired individuals may be escorted down the stairs to safe shelters, but may require assistance in moving in crowded staircases and in finding the safe shelter.


Thunderstorm Policy

Severe Thunderstorm Watch

This is a forecast of the possibility of severe thunderstorms (rain, hail, or high winds) developing in a large geographic area. University operations continue as normal, but stay alert for sudden changes in weather conditions. If possible, monitor local radio stations or local Internet weather sites. More information available through GVSU Emergency.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning

A severe thunderstorm (with rain, hail, or high winds) has been sighted and may be approaching the area. University operations continue as normal. Outdoor athletic and intramural events may be cancelled. Remain inside the building and be alert for changes in weather conditions. More information available through GVSU Emergency.


Lightning Policy

Lightning Detection

Campus Recreation will utilize a lightning detection device to aid in the policy implementation. If the strike alert detection device seems to be unreliable or you are questioning the accuracy, faulty batteries, or other areas of concerns, the “Flash to Bang” method should be used in place of the pager system.

Flash-To-Bang Method

To use the Flash-to-Bang method, count the time from when you see a lightning strike until you hear thunder. If that time is 30 seconds or less, the storm is within 6 miles of you. Stop all activity and clear the area immediately. Activity may be resumed 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder.

Policy by Program Area

  1. The Sports Programs Supervisor will be responsible for making sure that the lightning detection system is available and functioning.
  2. If the weather report suggests severe weather or the chance of the lightning, the lightning detection device will be turned on and placed in a prominent location where it can be checked hourly.
  3. The Supervisor will notify Officials to alert team captains that there is the potential for weather concerns and pay attention to announcements to cease activity. The Supervisor will review safe locations to take shelter if needed at the activity site.
    1. If at the Outdoor South Complex, move to the closest following facility:
      1. South Complex Restrooms and Locker Rooms (limited space)
      2. Kelly Family Sports Center
      3. Fieldhouse
      4. Personal Vehicles
    2. If at the Sand Volleyball Courts, move to the closest following facility:
      1. Kelly Family Sports Center
      2. Fieldhouse
      3. Personal Vehicles
  4. If there is an indication on the strike alert pager that lightning is in the area, the Supervisor will carry the lightning detection device on their person and continue to actively monitor the distance of the lightning strikes.
  5. If there is an indication of a lightning strike in the 0-6 mile range on the lightning detection device, play will cease IMMEDIATELY and activity area will be cleared.
  6. Play will only resume if after 30 minutes the 0-6 mile indicator has not been illuminated.

Practices

  1. The Risk Management Officer will be advised to the Campus Recreation weather policies during a Club Sports training each semester.
  2. If there is a weather report that suggests severe weather or the chance of lightning, the Risk Management Officer will use the Flash to Bang Method to determine if lightning is in the 0-6 mile range.
  3. If there is an indication of a lightning strike in the 0-6 mile range, practice will cease immediately and the activity area will be cleared.
  4. Activity may be resumed 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder.

Home Competitions  

  1. The Sports Programs Supervisor will be responsible for making sure that the lightning detection system is available and functioning.
  2. If the weather report suggests severe weather or the chance of the lightning, the lightning detection device will be turned on and placed in a prominent location where it can be checked hourly.
  3. The Supervisor will notify Officials to alert team captains that there is the potential for weather concerns and pay attention to announcements to cease activity. The Official will review safe locations to take shelter if needed at the activity site (see below).
  4. If there is an indication on the lightning detection device that lightning is in the area, the Supervisor will carry the lightning detection device on their person and continue to actively monitor the distance of the lightning strikes.
  5. If there is an indication of a lightning strike in the 0-6 mile range on the lightning detection device, play will cease IMMEDIATELY and activity area will be cleared.
  6. Play will only resume if after 30 minutes the 0-6 mile indicator has not been illuminated.

    Safe Locations

    • If at the Outdoor South Complex, move to the closest following facility:
      1. South Complex Restrooms and Locker Rooms (limited space)
      2. Kelly Family Sports Center
      3. Fieldhouse
      4. Personal Vehicles
    • If at the Sand Volleyball Courts, move to the closest following facility:
      1. Kelly Family Sports Center
      2. Fieldhouse
      3. Personal Vehicles
    • If at the Boathouse or on the water, land boats and take shelter on land:
      1. GVSU Boathouse
      2. Another boat launch facility along the river if GVSU Boathouse is inaccessible due to time constraints or conditions
      3. Any area of shoreline that can accommodate boats, if no other launch facility can be reached.
    • If at the Rowing Training Center (RTC):
      1. Remain in the RTC
      2. Move to Personal Vehicles
        1. The Assistant Director will be responsible for making sure that the lightning detection system is available and functioning.
        2. If the weather report suggests severe weather or the chance of the lightning, the lightning detection device will be turned on and placed in a prominent location where it can be checked every half hour.
        3. The Assistant Director will notify Activity Leaders to alert participants that there is the potential for weather concerns and pay attention to announcements to cease activity. The Assistant Director will review safe locations to take shelter if needed at the activity site.
          1. Potential safe shelter locations must be included in the planning for any programs taking place outside and must be reviewed by the Assistant Director prior to the activity taking place.
          2. If in a remote (non-urban) environment, the Activity Leader should adhere to the following safe shelter guidelines to the extent possible.
            1. Avoid ridgelines and prominent tall structures
            2. Avoid caves or overhung terrain
            3. Avoid large bodies of water
            4. Avoid active power lines, wire fences, or other conductive objects
            5. A uniform (in height) stand of trees is okay
            6. If in temporary shelters, participants should be split into small groups and be at least 30’ apart from one another.  If participants are caught in the open, the group should disperse themselves at least a body length apart from one another.
            7. Assume the lightning position:  squatting with feet underneath torso, knees to chest, and on top of an insulating material (if available).
        4. If there is an indication on the lightning detection device that lightning is in the area, the Activity Leader will carry the lightning detection device on their person and continue to actively monitor the distance of the lightning strikes.
        5. If there is an indication of a lightning strike in the 0-6 mile range on the lightning detection device, activity will cease IMMEDIATELY and activity area will be cleared.
          1. If the lightning detection device indicates lightning in the 6-12 mile range and is assumed approaching, Activity Leaders should begin discussing safe shelter options near their current location.
        6. Activity will only resume if after 30 minutes the 0-6 mile indicator has not been illuminated.
        1. The Race Director will be responsible for making sure that the lightning detection system is available and functioning.
        2. If the weather report suggests severe weather or the chance of the lightning, the lightning detection device will be turned on and placed in a prominent location where it can be checked hourly.
        3. The Race Director will notify the Athletic Trainer, Timing Company, All and Vendors that there is the potential for weather concerns and pay attention to announcements to cease activity.
          1. The Race Director and Timing Company will notify participants during pre-race announcements.
          2. The Race Director will text all Course Volunteers to notify participants along the course.
          3. All volunteers and participants must seek shelter IMMEDIATELY. 
        4. The Race Director will review safe locations to take shelter if needed at the activity site.
          1. If on the 5K course, seek shelter in the nearest facility:
            1. Any unlocked buildings on the course
            2. Kirkhof Center
            3. Library
            4. Fieldhouse
            5. Personal Vehicles
        5. If there is an indication on the lightning detection device that lightning is in the area, the Race Director will carry the lightning detection device on their person and continue to actively monitor the distance of the lightning strikes.
        6. If there is an indication of a lightning strike in the 0-6 mile range on the lightning detection device, event will cease IMMEDIATELY and activity area will be cleared.
        7. Events will be canceled or delayed if any of the following weather conditions exist:
          1. Tornado Warning
          2. Tornado Watch
          3. Thunderstorm / “Heavy Rain”
          4. Ice Storm
        8. The start of any events can be delayed one hour from the posted start time if any of the above mentioned conditions exist.
        9. Event will only resume if after 30 minutes the 0-6 mile indicator has not been illuminated.
          1. Delay race ahead of time if storm front is expected to hit during race.
          2. Cancel race if storm continues for over an hour.
        10. If cancelled, no refunds will be provided and race services will cease.

        Tornado Policy

        Tornado Watch

        • A forecast of the possibility of tornadoes developing in a large geographic area.
        • University operations continue as normal, but stay alert for sudden severe changes in weather conditions.
        • If possible, monitor local radio stations or local Internet weather sites.
        • Activity is delayed or suspended until the watch is no longer a threat.

        Tornado Warning

        • A tornado has been sighted and may be approaching the area.
        • An emergency situation requiring persons in the affected area to seek immediate shelter.
        • Sirens are activated. All GVSU operations as suspended until the event has passed. 
        • Activity is suspended until the warning is no longer a threat.
        • More information available through GVSU Emergency.

        Designated Safety Areas

        The safest area is the center of the building as close to the basement or ground floor as possible. Placards have been placed at main entrances to academic buildings alerting the designated shelter location. Placards are also placed at the designated shelter location. View the recommended emergency shelter locations in each building. In the event the locations do not provide enough space, individuals should be directed to a lower level room with interior walls and without windows.

        More information available through GVSU Emergency.

        Tornado Safety Tips

        • Go to the center of the building or lower level. (Source: gvsu.edu/emergency)
        • Stay away from windows. (Source: gvsu.edu/emergency)
        • Do not use elevators.
        • Move quickly to the tornado shelters listed on posters and university buildings.
          • If in the Fieldhouse, move to the Sub-basement level.
          • If in the Recreation Center, move to the Sub-basement level.
          • If in the Kelly Family Sports Center, move to the Field-level Locker Rooms.
          • If at the Bike Shop (Ravines Center location), move to the closest following facility: Kelly Family Sports Center, Fieldhouse, Personal Vehicles.
        • Remain in the tornado shelter until the sirens have stopped.
        • If a tornado strikes, help avoid telephone overloads. Do not use telephones, except for an emergency.
        • Seek indoor shelter if possible.
          • If at the Outdoor South Complex, move to the closest following facility:
            • South Complex Restrooms and Locker Rooms (limited space)
            • Kelly Family Sports Center
            • Fieldhouse
            • Personal Vehicles
          • If at the Sand Volleyball Courts, move to the closest following facility:
            • Kelly Family Sports Center
            • Fieldhouse
            • Personal Vehicles
          • If on the 5K course, seek shelter in the nearest facility:
            • Any unlocked buildings on the course
            • Kirkhof Center
            • Library
            • Fieldhouse
            • Personal Vehicles
        • If you are on flat ground and are caught in the path of a tornado, always move at right angles to its path.

        Hot Weather Policy

        To help reduce risk of heat illness, we will monitor the outdoor temperature by using the Wet Bulb Globe Thermometer (WBGT) readings from a digital sling psychrometer. All outdoor activities operate under a specific set of guidelines that are used to determine the level of risk. The Supervisor is responsible for communicating to all participants and employing these guidelines.

        Heat-Related Injuries

        Signs & Symptoms (Heat)

        • Intense pain/cramping
        • High sweat rate
        • Dehydration/thirst
        • Fatigue
        • Muscle cramping
        • Pain
        • Swelling
        • Weakness
        • Inability to catch one’s breath
        • Fatigue
        • Dizziness/lightheadedness/syncope
        • Fatigue
        • Tunnel vision
        • Pale, sweaty skin
        • Bradycardia
        • Core temp ( >104°F)
        • Excessive fluid consumption
        • Nausea
        • Vomiting
        • Swelling of extremities
        • Progressive headache
        • Confusion / disorientation
        • Altered level of consciousness
        • Core temp ( >104°F)
        • Dizziness
        • Irrational behavior
        • Confusion / disorientation
        • Altered level of consciousness
        • Hot skin
        • Tachycardia (100 – 120 bpm)
        • Hypotension
        • Hyperventilation
        • Vomiting
        • Core temp (97°F – 104°F)
        • Dehydration
        • Dizziness/lightheadedness/syncope
        • Headache
        • Nausea
        • Intestinal cramps / diarrhea
        • Profuse sweating
        • Cool, pale, clammy skin

        Management of Heat-Related Injuries

        • Call 911 for any person with an altered mental status
        • If a Certified Athletic Trainer is NOT PRESENT:
        • If a Certified Athletic Trainer is PRESENT, treat according to training.
        • For outdoor programs in a wilderness environment (delayed help), the Wilderness First Responder (WFR) or staff certified in Wilderness First Aid (if no WFR present) should treat the patient according to training, activate EMS as soon as possible, and begin evacuation planning for anyone with altered mental status.

        COLD WATER SUBMERSION

        Cold water submersion (35°F – 59°F) is the most effective way of cooling the body if a heat stroke is suspected. The participant should be removed from the water when the core temperature reaches 102°F and transported via EMS.


        Cold Weather Policy

        The following policy guides decision making for patient safety regarding environmental cold injuries. Exposure to cold presents an inherent risk of injury. It is important to note that the following guidelines for activity and associated limitations apply only in the absence of precipitation. It is unclear at exactly what rate of rain or snow fall, in conjunction with the air temperature and wind rate, conditions become unsafe. However, it is clear that precipitation, most notably rain and snow, significantly increases the risk of environmental cold injury. Therefore, in circumstances involving precipitation, decisions about delays and cancellations will be made by the Supervisor on an individual basis based upon the current conditions

        Winter Storm Watch

        Forecast of hazardous winter weather due to various elements such as heavy snow, sleet, or ice accumulation from freezing rain. A watch is a long-range prediction. Watches are generally issued by the National Weather Service at least 12 hours before hazardous weather is expected to begin. University operations continue as normal. More information through GVSU Emergency.

        Winter Storm Warning

        Hazardous winter weather is imminent and there is a good possibility of heavy snow, sleet, or ice accumulation from freezing rain. University operations may be suspended or delayed. More information through GVSU Emergency.

        Cold-Related Injuries

        Signs & Symptoms (Cold)

        • Vigorous shivering
        • Increased blood pressure
        • Fine motor skill impairment
        • Lethargy
        • Apathy
        • Mild amnesia
        • Edema
        • Erythema
        • Stiffness
        • Tingling or burning
        • Mottled or gray skin appearance
        • Tissue that feels hard and does not rebound
        • Vesicles
        • Numbness or anesthesia
        • Small erythematous papules
        • Edema
        • Tenderness
        • Itching
        • Cessation of shivering
        • Depressed vital signs
        • Impaired mental function
        • Slurred speech
        • Unconsciousness
        • Gross motor skill impairment
        • Burning, tingling, or itching
        • Loss of sensation
        • Cyanotic / blotchy skin
        • Swelling
        • Blisters
        • Skin fissures

        Management of Cold-Related Injuries

        Any situation where an individual has been exposed to cold weather and would like to lay down and rest should be considered a medical emergency and necessitate activation of the EAP.

        • Call 911 for medical emergencies.
        • If a Certified Athletic Trainer is NOT PRESENT:
        • If a Certified Athletic Trainer is PRESENT, treat according to training.
        • For outdoor programs in a wilderness environment (delayed help), the Wilderness First Responder (WFR) or staff certified in Wilderness First Aid (if no WFR present) should treat the patient according to training and begin evacuation planning to a medical facility for anyone with cold related illness that does not improve with treatment and for cases of deep frostbite.