WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - It’s Severe Weather Preparedness Week in North Carolina, and schools and businesses will take part in weather awareness drills to help better prepare for severe weather.
“We are entrusted with their safety," says Virginia Williamson Elementary School principal Helen Otto. "We want to make sure that even though this is a drill, this is how we will perform if something should happen.”
The National Weather Service and the North Carolina Department of Public Safety will be providing information through the safety campaign. Meteorological spring started March 1 and with the warmer weather soon arriving, it’s time to have safety plans in place.
Steve Pfaff, the lead warning coordinator for The National Weather Service, says it’s important to have a plan at home with your family.
“We’re getting that information out, and getting people thinking of these types of hazardous weather events, that way if it does occur, we’ve had these recent discussions, we’ve looked through our plans, we’re now in a better situation to deal with them if we have to face one," says Pfaff. "There is no silver bullet, but there is a lot of things we can do to minimize our risk.”
During Hurricane Dorian, Tommy Hall and his family rushed to their safe spot in their home, the bathroom, right as an EF2 tornado struck.
“The whole kitchen turned black and the windows all exploded on the inside and that’s when the tornado hit us," says Hall. "I’ve been in IED explosions in the Middle East and they compare nothing to this. Having a plan, I really think, saved our lives. Matter of fact I know it did. Looking at the other houses, the way they were destroyed, you know, we were blessed.”
If a tornado warning is issued, here are some tips on how to stay safe and seek shelter:
- Go to an interior area on the lowest floor
- Grab pillows or a mattress to cover your head and body, or use your arms
- Stay away from windows
- Get out immediately. Mobile homes offer little protection
- Go to a nearby, stable building or storm shelter
- Drive to the closest stable building to take shelter
- If you’re in a car getting hit by flying debris, get into a low lying area and cover your head
- Do not go to an overpass. These can act as a wind tunnel and make winds even stronger
North Carolina averages 26 tornadoes, three tornado fatalities and 39 tornado injuries each year, according to NWS. Most tornadoes happen during meteorological spring and peak in April. To find out more information about Severe Weather Preparedness Week, check out The National Weather Service’s website.