Contributor: Carrie Speranza
Virginia has been hit by over 50 tornados in the last three years, with Fairfax County ranking as one of the highest in the state for tornado vulnerability.
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) sought participation from organizations all over the state to help bolster emergency preparedness through its annual Statewide Tornado Drill held earlier this week. With help from our emergency management and homeland security branch, employees in four Dewberry offices participated in this drill, refreshing memories on proper tornado response techniques.
Tornado/Severe Weather Emergency Response
Whether you’re in Virginia, or another area of the country where tornadoes are prevalent, it’s important to follow these techniques:
When a tornado warning is issued and a funnel cloud has been sighted, it's best to shelter-in-place in a basement, crouching as low as possible to the floor, facing down, and cover your head with your hands.
Alternative shelter-in-place areas are a stairwell or interior room with no windows or openings to the outside.
What Happened During Dewberry’s Drill?
To make the drill as realistic as possible, no official start time was advertised; however, the sound of an air horn signified the start. Overall, employees thought the drill was a great exercise in tornado preparedness. They acknowledged that the drill began the process of institutionalizing all-hazards awareness and taught everyone how to protect themselves from severe weather events.
We learn from an early age how to respond to fire drills, but responding to a severe weather event requires different techniques and is often less practiced. By exercising proper response procedures and conducting frequent drills, employees are better prepared for these real-world events.
For more information on tornadoes and Virginia’s Tornado Drill, visit the Virginia Department of Emergency Management website.