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NC schools prepare for tornado season

By Alison Parker
Published On: Mar 06 2013 04:16:49 PM CST
Updated On: Mar 06 2013 04:19:59 PM CST
RICHLANDS -

It's tornado season -- March and April being a common time for one to hit.

That's according to the Onslow County Emergency Services.

Schools and government buildings across North Carolina practiced tornado drills Wednesday to get ready.
 
"We inform students and staff of how to maintain safety, how to maintain order, where to go, and how to take the positions we need to take to be safe in a situation like this," said LeAnne Ervin, assistant principal for Richlands Elementary School.

Ervin says the drill hasn't been used for real in her six-year tenure at the school. But she says practice will make perfect, when or if the time comes.
    
For the drill, Ervin says teachers encourage students to grab their jackets on their way out of the classroom so they can use them for extra protection, and move to a hallway away from windows and low to the ground. That's when students can assume the crouch and cover position, where they get down on their knees and put their hands over their heads.

Ervin says it's not just at school where students should learn about tornado safety. Parents like Jennifer Whaley should have a plan of action at home.  
 
"We do have a location in the house that we know we have to report to," Whaley said. "We do take the blankets in pillows, if necessary."

She says there's a closet in the middle of her home that's low to the ground without windows, where her family will go if a tornado ever comes.

Norman Bryson with Onslow County Emergency Services says all families should discuss having safety kits with extra water, cash, weather radio, blankets, change of clothes and even a spare cell phone battery.
    
He adds that if you're driving and happen to encounter a tornado, he warns not to find the nearest ditch because of potential flooding. He recommends finding shelter, if possible. 

Here's a link to the American Red Cross disaster preparedness page, so you can put together a safety kit:

http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/tornado