Practice, practice, practice!
I love that corny line from the 1950’s because it rings true for almost everything; music, sports, and even communications. Practice makes perfect.
Having said that, this week has been declared Ohio’s official Severe Weather Awareness Week. Communities across the state are practicing their tornado drills and emergency response systems, especially here in Tornado Alley where 5 tornadoes already hit earlier this month.
In addition to practicing physical or “take-cover” drills, practicing one’s communications procedures is also critical to avoid any delay alerting your citizens, students, or employees. If you only use your emergency notification system once a year during drills, or worse, not until there is an actual severe weather emergency, you risk needless delays as responders and administrators struggle to recall – under intense pressure – how the darn thing works.
In such situations, the One Call Now mass notification system offers a significant advantage for officials: Familiarity. While One Call Now is a world-class emergency alert solution, it is usually used on a regular basis for more routine communications as well. Therefore, the people responsible for sending alerts are completely familiar with the system through constant use. So, when an actual emergency hits, there is no delay as people struggle in the urgency of the moment to recall how to initiate their emergency communications. In a situation where mere minutes can make a difference – familiarity matters. Practicing all your procedures, including sending critical communications, saves lives.
5 Top Tips for Tornado & Severe Weather Preparedness.
1. If you remember nothing else, remember to DUCK:
D – Go DOWN to the lowest level
U – Get UNDER something
C – COVER your head
K – KEEP in shelter until the storm has passed
2. Develop and document a disaster plan.
- Make sure everybody in your organization knows their roles and responsibilities; where to go and what to do.
- If you are a business, school, or agency, you should also have a specific safety plan for those with special needs. Narrow stairwells may not accommodate wheelchairs.
- Keep a battery operated NOAA weather radio on site so you can receive information and instructions from emergency response officials even if the power goes out. Also maintain a supply of flashlights, batteries, and drinking water.
- If you are responsible for your physical facilities, make sure you practice turning off the utilities at the main switches. This is an often forgotten step.
3. Practice your emergency procedures and conduct drills on a regular basis throughout the year, not just annually prior to the severe weather season.
4. The safest place to be during a tornado is a basement. But if there is no basement in your building, go to a small windowless interior room such as a bathroom, on the lowest level and as close to the center as possible. Avoid large rooms such as auditoriums or cafeterias.
5. If you’re caught outside or in your car, head to the nearest building and find a suitable safe room on a lower level. Your car offers little protection during a tornado. Nor do bridges and underpasses offer any additional safety. As a last resort, lie flat in a low spot or roadside ditch.