It’s a test: Sirens will blow April 19 for drill

It's a test: Sirens will blow April 19 for drill by M. Jill Karolevitz Spring and Summer Severe Weather Awareness Week is set for April 17-21 this year and Vermillion will participate with a storm siren drill on Wednesday, April 19.

At 10 a.m., a �Tornado Watch� will be issued from the National Weather Service office in Sioux Falls.

At 10:30 a.m., a �Tornado Warning� will be issued. All watches and warnings will be canceled by the NWS office at 11 a.m. The drills will be conducted statewide.

As better weather comes with the change of seasons, people often become complacent about the potential for storms. But Ben Taylor, Clay County Emergency Management Director, says the need is always there to spread the word about how to survive the wrath of Mother Nature � especially tornadoes and high wind storms.

Storm shelters

Although there is no guaranteed safe place during a tornado, some locations are better than others. Vermillion has several severe weather storm shelters, where community residents can go when the siren blows a tornado warning if they have no basement or similar structural protection of their own.

These shelters and their location are:

? Trinity Lutheran Church, 816 East Clark Street

? Hillside Community Church, 1000 Constance Drive

? First Baptist Church, 101 East Main Street

? Concordia Lutheran Church, 7 South University

? Eagle�s Club, 114 West Main

? Public Safety Center, 15 Washington Street.

The National Guard Armory, 603 Princeton Street, is a winter shelter only.

Storm centers on The University of South Dakota campus are available on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. They are:

? Akeley Science Center

? Dakota Hall

? Noteboom Hall

? Slagle Hall

? Arts and Science building

? East Hall

? School of Law

? DakotaDome locker rooms

? South Dakota Union

? Lee Medicine and Science.

�The sirens will blow when we have a high wind storm or when a tornado is spotted,� Taylor said. �A tornado warning siren is a steady tone that blows for several minutes, compared to the alternating high-low tone of a fire whistle. If people need shelter, they can go to the closest one.

�Don�t pack a bag,� he continued. �You don�t have time. Just get there � get out of the storm.�

Radio will give all-clear

Once the storm has passed, an all-clear siren will not blow.

�This has been confusing to people in the past,� Taylor said. �If you turn on your radio to station MIX106 KVHT Vermillion/Yankton or KOOL1570 KOSZ Vermillion, you will be informed when the storm is over.�

He added that a battery-operated radio is an important piece of equipment to have if the electricity goes out. Locally, MIX106 KVHT Vermillion/ Yankton or KOOL1570 KOSZ Vermillion will track the storm to keep listeners informed of its progress.

Although tornadoes are not a frequent occurrence, they are always possible. It�s especially important to remember the difference between a tornado watch and warning.

Tornado watch

A watch is given when weather conditions are favorable to the formation of tornadoes, for example during severe thunderstorms. During a tornado watch, keep an eye on the weather and be prepared to take shelter immediately if conditions worsen.

Tornado warning

A warning is given when a tornado funnel is sighted or indicated by radar. You should take shelter immediately. Because tornadoes can form and move quickly, there may not be time for a warning. That�s why it�s important to stay alert during storms.

If you do not utilize the above shelters, here are suggested safety tips that you can use to increase your chances for survival:

At Home

Get to shelter immediately. Avoid windows. Flying glass can injure or kill. Don�t open windows. Houses don�t �explode� and allowing strong winds in can do damage or cause injury.

The safest place in the house is the interior part of the basement, preferably under something sturdy like a table. Stay out from under heavy objects like pianos or refrigerators on the floor above.

If you have no basement and cannot reach a public shelter, go to an inside room on the lowest floor, like a closet, hallway, or bathroom with no windows.

For added protection, get under something strong, like a workbench or heavy table. If possible, cover your body with a blanket or sleeping bag and protect your head with anything available, even your hands.

Mobile Homes

Do not stay in a mobile home during a tornado. Even homes with a secure tie-down system cannot withstand the force of tornado winds. Plan ahead. Know where public shelter is available or make arrangements to stay with friends or neighbors who have basements. Go there if a tornado watch is issued.

If a tornado warning is given, leave your mobile home and seek shelter nearby. Lie flat in a ditch or ravine and put your arms over your head. Don�t take shelter under your home.

On the Road

The least desirable place to be during a tornado is in a motor vehicle. Cars, buses, and trucks are tossed easily by tornado winds. Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car. If you see a tornado, stop your vehicle and get out. Seek shelter away from the car in a nearby ditch or ravine; do not get under your vehicle. Lie flat and put your arms over your head.

Long Span Buildings

Long span buildings are dangerous. The entire roof structure is supported solely by the outside walls. Inside walls are usually false or non-load bearing walls.

If you are caught in an open building like a shopping mall, civic center, indoor pool, theater, or gymnasium during a tornado, stay away from windows. Get into the restroom, if possible. In larger buildings, the restrooms are usually made from concrete block. Besides having four walls and plumbing holding things together, metal partitions help support any falling debris.

If there is not time to go anywhere, seek shelter right where you are. Try to get up against something that will support or deflect falling debris. For instance, in a department store, get up against heavy shelving or counters. In a theater, get under the seats. Remember to protect your head.

Schools, Hospitals, Nursing

Homes and Office Buildings

Extra precautions are needed in these structures. Not only is there a large concentration of people in a small area, but these buildings usually have large amounts of glass on the outside walls. Get into the innermost portions on the lowest floor possible. Avoid windows, glass doorways and auditoriums and cafeterias not protected by overhead floors and rooms.

Do not use elevators; the power may go off and you could become trapped. Protect your head and make yourself as small target as possible by crouching down.

In the Open

If you are caught outside during a tornado and there is no underground shelter immediately available, lie in a gully, ditch, or low spot in the ground. Protect your body and head with anything available. Do not go into a grove of trees or under a vehicle.

Emergency services personnel are usually on the scene quickly after a tornado. Keep your family together and wait for help to arrive. Listen to the radio for information about disaster relief and assistance available from local authorities and volunteer agencies.

If you are outside, don�t go into damaged buildings; they may collapse completely. Wait for help to search for others. If your home appears undamaged, check carefully for gas or other utility line breaks. If the lights are out, use a flashlight only; do not use a match, lighter, or any open flame.

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