National Weather Service conducts statewide tornado drill

VIDEO: Students practice safety in statewide tornado drill

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - At schools across South Carolina, a mock tornado warning sent students into their hallways Wednesday morning.

The National Weather Service conducted a statewide tornado drill, an annual event for students and state agencies to participate and check their own readiness.

In schools, students left classrooms, went into interior hallways, crouched down on the floor and covered their heads. While kids are preparing at school, officials say this week is a good opportunity for parents to exercise a family plan at home in case of severe weather.

Meanwhile, broadcast facilities, schools, hospitals and other public buildings were able to test Emergency Alert System equipment and emergency radio receivers to confirm that they will work in a real emergency.

Tornadoes can occur at any time of day or night and at any time of year and have been reported in all 50 states.

The National Weather Service says tornadoes cause an average of between 60 and 65 deaths and 1,500 injuries each year.

Staying safe during a tornado

The safest place to be during a tornado is an underground shelter, basement or safe room, according to the National Weather Service's website. If no underground shelter or safe room is available, look for a small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building.

Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes, experts say. If you are in a mobile home during a tornado warning, abandon the home and go to the nearest sturdy building or shelter immediately.

If you are caught outdoors and see a tornado approaching, seek shelter inside a building. If you aren't able to get to a building, the weather service recommends you get into a vehicle and drive to the nearest shelter. If flying debris occurs while you are driving and you must pull over, experts say you have the following options as a last resort:

  • Stay in your vehicle with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible.
  • If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.

Experts say tornadoes can occasionally develop so quickly that warning is not always possible. They say you should remain alert for signs of an approaching tornado:

  • Dark, often greenish sky
  • Large hail
  • Loud road similar to a freight train

The National Weather Service urges families to talk about what they would do if a tornado warning were issued and practice their plan during the drill.

Download the National Weather Service's Preparedness Guide here:

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