Emergency Management - March 1, 2018
Forsyth County emergency management officials are encouraging residents to participate in the statewide tornado drill March 7 as part of Severe Weather Preparedness Week in North Carolina, March 5 - 11.
Participating in the drill is the best way to be prepared for severe weather that can strike in the spring and summer, says Robert Reece, the acting emergency management director for Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. "Severe thunderstorms involve a variety of weather conditions such as hail, flash floods and tornadoes," Reece said. "These storms can develop rapidly, so having a plan in place beforehand is critical."
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.
Forsyth County schools and government buildings will participate in the statewide tornado drill at 9:30 a.m. March 7. Test messages will be broadcast on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio and the Emergency Alert system.
"Practice makes perfect when it comes to preparing for severe weather. The time you take now to prepare will make all the difference if and when disaster strikes," Reece said.
In 2017, the National Weather Service issued 85 tornado warnings for North Carolina and recorded 30 tornadoes. There were 104 incidents of flooding across the state. In addition, the NWS issued 561 severe thunderstorm warnings, and recorded 650 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.