Be Prepared for Spring!

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Today marks the official start of Spring and Virginians are marking the occasion by getting prepared.

Damage from a tornado in Suffolk, Virginia.

Damage from a tornado in Suffolk, Virginia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Virginia saw 51 tornadoes last year — the second-highest number ever recorded.  More than 100 people were injured and 10 people lost their lives.   So at 9:45 this morning, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management hosted a state-wide tornado drill with more than 810,000 individuals, businesses and other organizations registered to participate, according to a press release on the department’s website.

Here are some tips on how to conduct a Tornado Drill from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s website:

Before the Drill

  • Make sure that everyone is aware that you are having a tornado drill, that they understand what will take place during the drill and that they know the safest places to be during a tornado.  (The safest place typically is a building’s basement away from windows.  If there is no basement, go to a windowless interior room such as a closet, bathroom or interior hall on the lowest level of the building)

During the Drill

  • Announce the start of the drill by using a public address system or having designated volunteers alert those involved.  Do this by going room to room and floor by floor of your building.
  • Participants should act as though a tornado warning has been issued for the immediate area or a tornado has been sighted near the building.  They should evacuate as quickly as possible to the nearest safe place.  Use stairs to reach the lowest level of a building and avoid using elevators.
  • In a real tornado emergency, once people reach safe areas they would crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down and cover their heads with their hands.  Ensure that everyone knows this.  You can practice crouching down.
  • After all employees have evacuated, the drill coordinator can announce that the tornado has passed and the drill is over.

After the Drill

  • The drill coordinator should document any necessary changes in the evacuation procedure.  Do more safe areas need to be identified? Are some safe areas cluttered and need to be cleaned out to be more accessible?  Do employees know the fastest routes to take to safe areas?  Is a better method for letting employees know of an approaching tornado needed?

Many of our security officers participated in these drills today and said they were extremely useful.

“The employees on site cooperated while officers assisted employees and made sure they knew where they needed to go,” Lt. Ken Hamilton said.  “The whole building is definitely much more prepared should a tornado really hit.  I’d love to have more training days just like this one.”