Monday, March 3, 2008

Virginia Tornado Preparedness Day is March 18th!

VDEM News Release

Virginia Department of Emergency Management
10501 Trade Court, Richmond, VA 23236

CONTACT: Bob Spieldenner (804) 897-6510
FOR RELEASE AT WILL - March 3, 2008

Tornado Drills Save Lives in Virginia

-- Tornado Preparedness Day is March 18 --

RICHMOND, VA -- The recent tornadoes in Tennessee and Alabama show how important it is that everyone knows what to do during a tornado warning. Virginians will have a chance to practice tornado safety during the statewide tornado drill on March 18. Last year in Virginia, more than 210,000 people reported performing their own drills during the annual statewide tornado drill.

"We've seen the damage a tornado can cause with little or no warning," said Michael Cline, state coordinator of emergency management. "There is no doubt in my mind that these drills save lives every year."

Unlike hurricane season, there is no such thing as a "tornado season," and no part of the Commonwealth is safe from experiencing a tornado. Tornadoes have struck in every part of Virginia in every month of the year.

"Planning where to go and what to do at a moment's notice is the most important thing people can do to prepare for a tornado," said Bill Sammler, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service. "Receiving warnings via NOAA Weather Radio can give you the life-saving time you need to get to safe shelter, or reach a safe place in your home, school or business."

In 2006, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration distributed approximately 80,000 weather alert radios to public schools across the country. Homes and businesses should also purchase their own radios, which transmit NWS severe weather watches and warnings automatically, 24 hours a day.

"If you are asleep or don't happen to have a television or radio turned on when a severe weather warning is issued, weather alert radios are always on and ready to sound an alarm," said Cline. "It is the most effective way to monitor severe weather watches and warnings at any time of day."

VDEM and NWS recommend designating a tornado shelter in an interior room on the lowest level of the building, away from windows. A basement is best, but if there is no basement, choose an interior bathroom, closet or other enclosed space on the lowest level of the building as possible. Tell everyone where the designated shelter is.

To conduct a drill at home or work:

  • Announce the start of the drill.
  • Participants should act as though a tornado warning has been issued for the immediate area or a tornado has been sighted nearby. They should move as quickly as possible to the designated tornado shelter.
  • Once people reach safe areas they should crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down, and cover their heads with their hands.
  • Once everyone has reached safe shelter, announce that the tornado has passed and the drill is over.

After the drill, perform an assessment. Determine whether the shelter you chose was large enough for everyone, easy to get to and uncluttered. Remember that tornadoes strike at all hours, and you might not have the benefit of being fully awake when a tornado warning comes.

Virginians should also know how to survive a tornado when they are not at home, school or work. Those caught outside during a tornado should find sturdy shelter and, if there is none, lie flat in the lowest spot possible (such as a ditch). Those in a car or mobile home should leave it immediately and find sturdy shelter or lie flat in the lowest depression in the ground. Those in large enclosures like a mall or auditorium should seek shelter elsewhere in the building, such as a restroom or interior hallway.

To date, schools and state and local government have registered nearly 100,000 participants in the statewide tornado drill, March 18 at 9:45 a.m. Families and businesses are also encouraged to visit to register and learn more about tornado safety. �

your volunteer PIO


  1. How fortuitous, CEAN has issued a tornado warning for Farifax.

  2. Sorry, should have included the link so that folks can sign up for the emergency announcements.


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