This biweekly column is sponsored by the Arlington Office of Emergency Management.
If the weather can be relied on for one thing so far this year, it’s unpredictability. We’ve gone from record-breaking high temperatures to a winter storm warning within one week. Nothing is more unpredictable than tornadoes. While Arlington County has escaped recent severe tornadoes experienced across the rest of the state, they are a real risk. Tornadoes have struck nearly every locality in Virginia. Do you know what to do during a tornado?
March 21 is Tornado Preparedness Day in Virginia. Join the Arlington County Office of Emergency Management and participate in the Statewide Tornado Drill by practicing where to go and what to do during a tornado. Register to hold a Tornado drill at your home or workplace & help to prepare your family and colleagues. Look for our notice at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday, March 21, 2017 on Facebook & Twitter stating the drill has begun. Show us how you prepare by posting a picture of your drill @ReadyArlington’s Facebook/Twitter account. Review these helpful tips from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM).
Tornado Watches vs. Warnings
- Tornado Watch (Be Prepared) A tornado is possible.
- Tornado Warning (Take Action Immediately) A tornado is already occurring in your area, or will be soon.
What to do during a tornado
- Home – Go to your basement, safe room, or an interior room away from windows. Don’t forget pets if time allows.
- Work – Proceed to your tornado shelter location quickly and calmly. Stay away from windows and avoid large open rooms such as cafeterias, gymnasiums, or auditoriums.
- Outside – Seek shelter inside a sturdy building ASAP. Sheds and storage facilities are not safe.
- On the road – Vehicles are not safe during a tornado. Drive to the closest shelter. If that’s not possible, either get down in your car and cover your head, or abandon your car and seek shelter in a low-lying area such as a ditch or ravine.
Getting the warning as soon as possible is critical with tornadoes. Over the last decade, people have significantly changed how they get their news and entertainment, and this puts more importance on the different ways you get important information:
- NOAA Weather Radios – Available for purchase, these radios often have a distinct alarm the will alert owners when significant weather events occur.
- Wireless Alert System (WEA) – Messages that appear as text messages on newer smartphones and cell phones automatically to notify you of amber alerts, silver alerts, emergencies where lives may be at risk (such as weather warnings), and Presidential alerts.
- Arlington Alert – Alerting system used by Arlington County to send emergency, as well as weather and traffic information to residents. Arlington Alert allows you to customize how you want to be notified (such as text, phone, email or App), what you what to be notified about (emergency notifications, weather, traffic) and when.
- AM/FM Radio and TV – If listening live, radio and TV broadcasts will allow for emergency alerts from the National Broadcast System and local meteorologists on the various local channels and stations