For the first time, IU will conduct its annual full-scale tornado drills on a day that falls outside of Spring Break. Held in conjunction with Indiana’s Severe Weather Preparedness Week, Operation Stormy Weather on March 22 gives emergency managers, students, staff and faculty members a chance to practice what they would do during a real tornado.
“Tornadoes pose a significant threat to this region and can strike at any time,” said Diane Mack, director of IU Emergency Management and Continuity. “Knowing where to go when you hear the tornado sirens or receive the IU-Notify alert could save your life.”
IU, along with municipalities and emergency management agencies statewide, will conduct two drills on March 22, in the morning and the evening. Students, staff and faculty members will be expected to respond as they would to the real deal: heading to their severe weather shelter or the safest location available. Once there, they should wait for the “all clear” message from IU-Notify.
What to expect:
- IU-Notify alerts using most modalities, including email, text and Alertus desktop alerts, will be sent between 10 and 10:30 a.m. and 7 to 8 p.m. announcing the beginning of the drill. Another notification will announce the “all clear.”
- In many IU buildings, volunteer staff will help direct students and staff to the safest location, which could be a specific shelter, interior hallway, stairwell or other location.
- The drill should take 10 to 15 minutes. A survey will also be sent to gather feedback for improving the process.
It’s important to know where to go before the drill occurs. Most buildings throughout the IU system have staff who serve on emergency action committees that have prepared Emergency Action Plans for their building or campus. These plans, among other things, include procedures for how to respond to tornadoes and other threats.
Some plans are available online, and others can be accessed by contacting the building coordinator or building contact for specific buildings. The Protect IU website contains information for campus and building-specific plans and building contacts.
The safest places to be during tornadoes are in basements, interior rooms or hallways, and severe weather shelters, which are indicated by a tornado funnel cloud symbol. The Protect IU website also provides information about preparing for tornadoes and severe weather.
During the March 22 drill, here are some other considerations:
- If you’re working in a lab or conducting another critical function that cannot be interrupted (i.e. dentistry procedure) and can’t seek shelter during this drill, the people who cannot seek shelter during the drill should take a few minutes to review the procedures and know where you would have gone to seek shelter, and those procedures should be discussed with anyone else in the vicinity. If this were a real tornado warning, you would be expected to proceed to a designated tornado shelter location.
- When IU-Notify messages are delivered, recipients should be sure that those around them are aware of the message in case they are not subscribed to IU-Notify. They should check to see if anyone in their vicinity needs assistance in following severe weather procedure.
- Also be certain that those people from other countries -- who may be used to a siren signaling a tsunami -- know what the siren means in the United States.
Emergency Management and Continuity staff would like to see pictures of students, staff and faculty members in their shelters, either on campus or at home. Pictures can be posted to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook with the hashtag #IUShelterSelfie. A search of the hashtag will pull up pictures from last year. These pictures also can be viewed on Protect IU Instagram.