Rowan-Salisbury students practice statewide tornado drill
By Shavonne Walker
SPENCER — The words rang loud and clear on the PA system Wednesday morning at North Rowan Elementary School — “this is a state tornado drill. Please move to your designated area and remain in that designated area.”
It was a message given by Principal Scotty Adcock to the pre-K through fifth grade students. The drill was one conducted statewide and at all of the schools within Rowan-Salisbury School System. This week is Severe Weather Preparedness Week.
“For our students especially, we want them to be prepared for any emergency that could come up and this gives us an opportunity for them to practice, whether they’re at school or at another place — just to know what they can do to keep themselves safe, if an emergency would arise,” Adcock said.
He said the students conducted themselves very well during the drill, were quiet and went into positions quickly.
In addition to drills, North Rowan teachers also incorporate safety procedures into their lesson plans.
Students were led to interior rooms and hallways, said Sharon Gardner, risk manager and safety officer for the school system.
Gardner explained that since North Elementary is the only school with sky lighting, the school system consulted with the county fire marshal regarding the safest places for students, and came up with using interior rooms.
Schools conduct tornado and earthquake drills once a year, fire drills monthly and lockdown drills twice a year, Gardner said.
She said the school system changed from surprise drills to making announcements so students aren’t frightened during drills and to reduce the risk of older students texting parents about an “emergency” at the school.
Gardner said not only did the schools participate in the statewide drill, but the school system’s transportation and central office.
It’s important the students remain in the correct position — legs tucked underneath them and hands covering their head and neck. Each classroom also has an emergency response chart that includes emergency numbers and procedures for severe weather, fire, lockdowns and other potential disasters.
“We appreciate our local school facilities, citizens and businesses participating in this morning’s successful tornado drill. Having a plan, understanding, and knowing what to do when severe weather strikes can make all the difference in the world,” said Frank Thomason chief of Rowan County Emergency Services.
Thomason has said the upcoming spring is peak tornado season.
In 2014, the National Weather Service issued 81 tornado warnings for North Carolina and recorded 36 tornadoes that killed one and injured 34 people. Combined, the tornadoes caused more than $22 million in damages.
Tips during a tornado:
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