Teachers, students encouraged to hold tornado drill during Florida Severe Weather Awareness Week
Students and teachers in Florida are being encouraged to take part in a statewide tornado drill this week.
At 10 a.m. Wednesday throughout Florida, National Weather Service radios will announce the tornado drill.
Teachers will take students to a safe area in a classroom or school. Students will be instructed to crouch down low to the ground and cover their heads with their hands or a book.
Students should stay in place until their teacher says it’s okay to get up.
Students can be reminded it's just like a rehearsal for a school play -- but for safety’s sake.
The test is to familiarize students and teachers with safety protocols in the event a tornado is imminent.
The Florida Division of Emergency Management will also draw attention to several weather hazards during the Severe Weather Week with the campaign aiming to share information on how to prepare and respond to natural disasters.
Each day will have a corresponding topic. Information will be shared over Facebook, Instagram and X under the #FLSWAW hashtag.
Monday, Feb. 5: Lightning
Tuesday, Feb. 6: Marine Hazards and Rip currents
Wednesday, Feb. 7: Thunderstorms and Tornadoes
Thursday, Feb. 8: Hurricanes and Flooding
Friday, Feb. 9: Extreme temperatures and wildfires
Its severe weather awareness week. We'll have a few posts through the week outlining ways to make sure you're prepared for severe weather (of all forms). First thing is making sure you know your @NWS office! Visit https://t.co/04iOPPdfml to follow your office.#FLwx #ALwx #GAwx pic.twitter.com/BhitcIkPy4— NWS Tallahassee (@NWSTallahassee) February 5, 2024
Tornado Safety Procedures
The safest place during a tornado is below ground level, inside a specifically designed tornado shelter. This is not feasible at FGCU, as there are no specific areas within campus buildings that have been designated as tornado shelters. Some safer shelter considerations are discussed below:
- In a sturdy building, move to small, interior spaces (hallways, bathrooms, closets, stairwells, office supply rooms, etc.) on the lowest floor. Close and secure the doors. In general, put as many solid walls between yourself and the exterior of the building as possible.
- Avoid auditoriums and gymnasiums or other structures with wide, free-span roofs. If a building is not of reinforced construction, go quickly to a nearby reinforced building, or a ravine or open ditch, and lie flat.
- Modular buildings are particularly vulnerable to overturning during strong winds. Personnel in modular structures should seek shelter in hardened buildings during tornado warnings.
- Stay away from windows.
- Do not shelter in areas that contain, or may create, additional hazards, such as chemical supply rooms, electrical equipment rooms, motor control centers, etc.
- Do not use elevators during a tornado warning. Power could go off leaving you trapped in the elevator.
- Protect your head. Use pillows, helmets, hardhats or your arms to protect from falling debris. Crouch under sturdy furniture if available.
- If outside, always seek shelter in a sturdy structure first, but if caught outdoors and shelter is not possible, lie flat in a ditch or other depression and cover your head with your arms. This is not safe. It is merely the lesser of many dangers.
- Do not seek shelter under a highway overpass or in a parking garage. These offer no protection from wind-blown debris.
- In a car, do not try to outrun the tornado. Drive to the nearest sturdy structure and shelter inside the building. If you must ride out the tornado in a car, tighten your seatbelt and crouch as low as possible (below the windows). Cover your head with your arms. Again, this is not safe. It is merely the lesser of many dangers.
Watch — A tornado watch means conditions are favorable for the formation of a tornado, but no tornado is occurring or imminent at the time the watch is issued. Accordingly, no specific safety actions are required. Monitor the weather closely and mentally rehearse the actions you may take if a tornado actually occurs. If feasible, it may be prudent to delay traveling and outside activities until the watch is lifted or expires. The university does not alter operations based on a tornado watch. All business and academic processes should continue as scheduled. However, everyone on the FGCU campus is expected to take appropriate precautions and be prepared to initiate personal and departmental safety plans should the need arise.
Warning — A tornado warning means a tornado has been spotted or is indicated on radar in the immediate area. The warning period is usually brief, and there may be little time before the tornado impacts your location. FGCU Emergency Management monitors the weather along with the University Police Department dispatch. If there is a tornado warning for the area and/or surrounding areas, an alert notification will be sent out through the RAVE text message system, desktop message system and siren. A prompt response to seek shelter is critical; every second counts. Once the tornado warning has expired, a RAVE text message will be sent out indicating campus is clear to return to normal operations.
WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you. Riley Hazel from the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network contributed to this report.