Students participate in statewide severe weather drill

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) –  The principal at Millcreek Elementary says it’s never too early for Kentuckians to learn what to do during severe weather.

At precisely 10:07 Tuesday morning, students at Millcreek took part in a statewide tornado drill.  Students were told over the loud speaker that the drill was in affect and that they needed to seek shelter.

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At Millcreek, that shelter is their gym which is located in the basement of the building.  Millcreek is one of few schools in Fayette Co. that has a basement, which is one of the safest places to seek shelter.

The National Weather Service says central Kentucky’s tornado activity tends to be 88% greater than the overall U.S. activity rate.  The school’s principal says it’s important for students to to know exactly what to do if a tornado watch or warning is issued.

The principal also said that teachers have been educating the students about tornadoes with videos of other states that have been hit.  The students have also been participating in smaller drills leading up to today’s drill.

Emergency management says severe weather preparedness begins with knowing the risks:

• Understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you and your family. In Lexington, hazardous weather includes high winds, heavy rains, flooding, thunderstorms and tornadoes.

• Stay aware of the local weather forecast. Get a NOAA Weather Radio for your home and office. Download an app for your smartphone that will give you local severe weather alerts. Access a local weather forecast in the morning and the evening – more often if severe weather is forecast.

• Develop a personal and family emergency plan that considers all types of local hazards.

Emergency management says your severe thunderstorm/tornado safety plan should include:

• Locate a tornado shelter place in an interior room on the lowest level of a building, away from windows. The ideal place is a basement or a closet or bathroom with no windows.

• Tell everyone where the designated shelter is and practice gathering there. Don’t forget to bring pets into the shelter room with you, if possible.

• Bring a battery-powered radio and smartphone with you into the shelter so you know when the danger of severe weather has passed.

To conduct a tornado drill at home or work:

• Announce the start of the drill.

• Participants should act as though a tornado warning has been issued for the immediate area or a tornado has been sighted nearby. They should move as quickly as possible to the designated tornado shelter.

• Once people reach predesignated safe areas, they should crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down, covering their heads with their hands.

• Once everyone has reached safe shelter, announce the mock tornado has passed and the drill is complete.

• After the drill, perform an assessment. Determine whether the shelter you chose was large enough for everyone, easy to get to and uncluttered. Is the shelter suitable for those who have impaired mobility or other disabilities?

• Help emergency managers and weather officials improve weather notifications and awareness campaigns by completing a short online survey here.

Officials say during severe weather, if you are caught outdoors and unable to seek indoor shelter, you should lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. It says OAA All-Hazards Weather Radio is the most effective way to monitor severe weather watches and warnings at any time of day or night.

Information about severe weather preparedness week is available from the Lexington Emergency Management website.