Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Virginia Tornado Preparedness Day: March 15

Tuesday, March 15th is Tornado Preparedness Day in Virginia, when a statewide tornado drill will occur at 9:45 a.m. A test tornado warning will be broadcast on television, radio, and on NOAA Weather Radios. You will hear the warning as you normally would if it were a real event, but this test message will come from all Virginia National Weather Service offices into the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and will be clearly identified as a test. The purpose of this drill is for Virginians to form and practice an emergency plan in the event of a tornado warning affecting your location. You need to know what safety precautions to take depending on where you are located, whether you are at school, work, the grocery store, in your car, outdoors, etc. Many of you may be required to participate in this drill at work or school, which helps these organizations prepare for the worst but also be ready to handle it wisely.

Basic tornado safety precautions:
  • Move inside a secure building into the lowest level and most interior room.
  • This room ideally should not have windows.
  • Once in the safe room, crouch low to the floor, facing down. Protect your head with your hands or anything else available (like a book or helmet).
Please note that mobile homes and work/school trailers do not constitute secure buildings. They must be abandoned for better shelter options. Abandon your vehicle if you are caught too close to a tornado. Ditches by the road can provide some protection from debris. Lay flat and protect your head with your hands. Never seek shelter under a highway overpass or bridge, as debris can rush underneath and strike you, or the bridge itself may fall on top of you if destroyed.

Before the threat of severe weather arrives, you can prepare a severe weather safety kit. This kit should include:
  • First aid supplies & your personal medications
  • Battery-powered radio (ideally a NOAA Weather Radio), flashlight, and extra batteries for these items. Cell phone.
  • Canned food and manual can opener, and other non-perishable food items and snacks (enough for each person for three days)
  • Bottled water (enough for each person for three days)
  • Sturdy shoes, extra clothes, work gloves (to protect yourself from broken glass or other sharp debris)
  • Utility instructions on how to turn off everything (like the water, gas, electric)
  • Phone numbers and addresses of important contacts
  • Important documents (like birth certificates, insurance information, etc)
If severe weather is possible in Virginia on March 15th, the drill will be postponed until the next day, Wednesday, March 16th.

If you have any questions about tornadoes or severe weather safety, we encourage you to contact your CBS 6 Storm Team at weather@wtvr.com. We'll be happy to help you prepare for this drill and for the real deal. --Meteorologist Carrie Rose--

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