Pinellas County is partnering with the State Emergency Response Team and with other central Florida counties to participate in the regional Great Tornado Drill on Wednesday, Jan. 25, as part of Severe Weather Awareness Week.
Everyone is encouraged to participate, whether at work, play, in the classroom or at home.
Businesses, organizations, families and individuals are asked to first identify a shelter and their source of emergency alerts, such as messages received on a mobile phone, weather radio or other notification service. The alerts should be loud enough to wake a person up if a tornado were to hit in the middle of the night. Tornadoes move fast. An alert will give participants about 11 minutes to find shelter.
At 10 a.m., participants should act as if a weather emergency notification was issued, practice sheltering in their safe room, and then take a selfie of their group. Practice as if an emergency weather alert has been issued and practice getting everyone into a safe room quickly. The National Weather Service issues a weekly test at 10:10 a.m. This is only a routine test and is not part of the tornado drill.
By using the hashtag #PCtornadodrill and posting it on Pinellas County’s Facebook at www.facebook.com/PinellasCountyNews, Twitter at www.twitter.com/PinellasCoNews or Instagram at www.instagram.com/PinellasCounty, participants will have a chance to win a NOAA weather alert radio, provided by the State of Florida.
The test in Pinellas County will be over at 10:30 a.m.
This exercise is meant to encourage business leaders, faith-based organizations, nonprofits, governmental agencies and individuals to identify how tornado alerts will be received at work or home, where safe rooms could be used as shelters during tornadoes, and how to move staff, customers or family into those areas in the safest manner possible.
The best photo entries will win a NOAA Weather Radio. NOAA broadcasts continuous emergency weather information from offices around the country. When a warning is issued, these radios emit a loud tone that will awaken those nearby to take protective cover. This device is available at drug stores, home improvement stores and other large retailers.
For more information on emergency preparedness, go to www.pinellascounty.org/emergency.