City News

Emergency Management - March 1, 2019

Emergency Management officials are encouraging residents to participate in the statewide tornado drill at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 6, to ensure that they are prepared for severe weather that may occur this spring.

Participating in the drill is the best way to be prepared for severe weather that can bring hail, flash floods or tornadoes with little or no warning, says August Vernon, the emergency management director for Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. "These storms can develop so rapidly that having a plan in place beforehand is critical."

The tornado drill is part of Severe Weather Preparedness Week in North Carolina, March 3 – 9. Forsyth County schools and government buildings will participate in the tornado drill. Test messages will be broadcast on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio and the Emergency Alert system. 

Emergency officials recommend having a weather radio that broadcasts alerts from the National Weather Service whenever severe weather occurs. Many tornado fatalities have occurred at night when people are asleep and less likely to receive a warning without a weather radio.

In addition, residents should put together an emergency supply kit and have an emergency plan so everyone knows where to go, who to call and what to do during a disaster. 

"Practice makes perfect when it comes to preparing for severe weather," Vernon said. "Taking a few minutes now to prepare will make all the difference if a disaster strikes."

In 2018, the National Weather Service issued 104 tornado warnings for North Carolina and recorded 20 tornadoes. There were 184 incidents of flooding across the state. In addition, the NWS issued 605 severe thunderstorm warnings and recorded 137 incidents of severe thunderstorms with damaging winds or large hail.

Emergency officials recommend people use the following safety tips:

  • Know the terms: WATCH means a tornado is possible. WARNING means a tornado has been spotted; take shelter immediately.
  • Know where the nearest safe room is, such as a basement or interior room and away from windows, and go there immediately if you hear or see a tornado.
  • If driving, leave your vehicle immediately and seek safety in an adequate structure. Do not try to outrun a tornado in a vehicle, and do not stop under an overpass or a bridge.
  • If outdoors, and there is no shelter available, take cover in a low-lying flat area. Watch out for flying debris.
  • After a storm, wear sturdy shoes, long sleeves and gloves when walking on or near debris, and be aware of exposed nails and broken glass.
  • Be aware of damaged power or gas lines and electrical systems that may cause fires, electrocution or explosions.

More information on tornadoes and overall emergency preparedness can be found online at ReadyForsyth.org or ReadyNC.org. To receive the most recent updates, visit ReadyForsyth on Facebook and "like" its page. Forsyth County emergency officials also encourage residents to download the free ReadyNC mobile app. 

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