Twist & Shake Mar. 16, 2011

Yesterday's Tornado Drill

I mentioned the statewide tornado drill yesterday, and that I had used it as a way to bring up preparedness to the folks in my office.

Here's a part of the email that I sent out.  Feel free to adapt it to your workplace if you would like.

Good morning,

Today at 9:45 the state will commence a tornado drill with an alert over the NOAA weather radio.

I don’t think it is necessary for our office to fully participate, but please take a moment to think about what you would do if we came under a tornado warning here and what you would do at home.

For this building, I think that the best location would be in the hallway outside of the break room. It’s windowless, relatively narrow, accessible from several different directions, and has little in it that could become windborne missiles. At home, establish a windowless location on your bottom level such as a ground floor bathroom or under the basement stairs. You might even preposition a couple flashlights, a battery or hand cranked radio, and a few bottles of water.

In whatever safe location you find yourself, the best position is seated on the floor, facing the wall, face protected by your knees, and hands protecting the back of your neck and head.  Most adults can’t begin to get in this position, but the main object is to protect your face, head and neck.

If you have a NOAA weather radio at home (and you really should), be sure it is set to your specific jurisdiction. Here is a link to all the county codes in Va. www.weather.gov/nwr/CntyCov/nwrVA.htm

For more information about tornado preparedness, please visit the Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s tornado preparedness pages at www.vaemergency.com/threats/tornado/index.cfm

Public events such as this drill are a great way to broach the subject with folks.  If you can be seen as the "go to" person for emergency information, people who don't otherwise think about preparedness might be more inclined to listen to you when you bring up other related topics.

The Great Central U.S. Shakeout 

Speaking of drills, the Great Central U.S. Shakeout is scheduled for April 28th.  It's an organized earthquake drill for 11 states from South Carolina to Oklahoma.  I'm not too familiar with earthquakes, having only been in a couple small ones that caused no damage.  I've always thought that a person should stand in a doorway during a quake, but just learned that they don't promote that anymore.  The current method is to drop, cover, and hold on.  Essentially, get down on your hands and knees to be able to move safer than if you were on your feet; crawl under a desk or table to protect you from falling items (more people are injured or killed by flying or falling objects than by structural collapse); and hold on to whatever you are taking cover under so that you can stay with it as it moves.

The old method of standing in a doorway was based on pictures of old buildings with nothing standing but the doorways after major quakes.  They say that in newer buildings, the doorways are no stronger than surrounding walls, and that during a strong quake, a person could probably not remain within the doorway even if it were a safer location.

So, my suggestion is to be alert for organized emergency drills in your area.  Learn about safety during the drills' disaster types and share that information with your coworkers, neighbors, church members, and family to get them thinking about preparedness and looking to you as the resident expert.

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