Sounding the Alarm for Preparedness

By: Charles Daniel
By: Charles Daniel

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Across Mississippi and Alabama Wednesday, tornado sirens sounded and NOAA Weather Radios alerted the public to a tornado warning.

This was all part of a test for emergency management officials and for the Emergency Alert System.

Lamar Elementary School students also participated in the drill.

"We are approaching the season when we see more severe weather and we talk about that in the classrooms and try to get across the seriousness of it," said Cindy Brooks, administrative assistant at Lamar. "And I think they really participated well today and showed us that they were listening and had been hearing what their teachers were saying."

Educating the public about what to do during severe weather is the first line of defense. That is the goal of Severe Weather Awareness Week.

As the alarms sounded, the students entered the hallways and covered their heads just like they should have.

Property damage is bearable, but loss of life is not, and Lamar students passed the test.

"I think they fell right in today and did just exactly what they expected them to do, and hopefully if we did have a real severe weather event we would be able to protect them too," said Brooks.

Schools were not the only participants in the drill. Emergency management agencies, hospitals and administrative offices also took part. There were a few minor problems reported, most of which were human error and officials say can be easily corrected.

"We found several glitches from people that supposedly had weather radios that either didn't have them on or did not know how to operate them," said Clarence Butler, coordinator for Lauderdale Emergency Management Agency.

That’s a potential deadly mistake. NOAA weather radios come in many different varieties. They are available for purchase at most electronics stores and hardware stores and generally cost less than $30, a small investment for a lifesaving device.

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