Schools, residents encouraged to participate in state tornado drill today

By Fallon Silcox, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 24, 2018, 10:47 AM EST

All across Florida today, there's a drill to make sure residents and students are prepared in case of an emergency. 

Around 10 a.m. Wednesday, everyone participating in the drill should consider themselves under a tornado warning and prepare to take cover. 

Participants can role play the Tornado Warning as an opportunity to practice their own emergency communications methods in classrooms, offices and other daytime gatherings. 

Students in Robin Robertson's fifth grade class at Bardmoor Elementary School have been practicing exactly what to do if a tornado hit. 

"The children go into duck and cover on a safe wall and remain that way. We do a quick roll call to make sure they're all where they're supposed to be until it's safe to end the drill," Ms. Robertson said. "With the changing weather conditions that we have here in Florida, we can go under tornado watch, tornado warning at any moment, so it's important they know exactly what to do so they do remain safe, everyone's calm, they do not panic, and that they're all secure."

Students said they know how dangerous tornadoes can be. 

"They're very powerful and they have very strong winds," student Shaun Robinette said.

And by practicing what to do if they're ever under a tornado warning, they say they'll feel safer if, or when, the real things come. 

Wednesday's drill is statewide, as part of Florida's severe weather awareness week. 

Residents are encouraged to identify their source of emergency alerts and secure shelter. Residents should monitor the weather and prepare to go to a safe place in the event of a Warning.

Official test alerts will not be sent and the drill should be considered over at 10:30 a.m.

School districts, businesses, organizations and individuals are encouraged to participate:

Before the drill

  • Prepare
  • Inform staff/students
  • Review and refine a tornado plan www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/safety.html

The Day of the Drill -- After 8 a.m. consider a Tornado Watch to be in effect

  • Announce watch to staff and/or students
  • Designate authority (coordinator)
  • Evacuate tornado vulnerable areas

10 a.m. -- Tornado Warning

  • Receive message (simulate this yourself)
  • Coordinator determines threat
  • Upon determination of immediate threat, give "take shelter" or "duck and cover" command (depending on space available at location)

10:30 a.m. -- Take a selfie and post it using #PCTornadoDrill.

Termination of Watch and Warning

  • Give instructions to return to normal activities (You will not receive notification. Terminate the drill as you see fit.) After the Drill Wrap-up *Following the drill, assess and revise plan as needed.