(BEDFORD) - What will you do when tornado sirens go off this Wednesday signaling a severe weather preparedness drill in communities across Indiana?
Valerie Luchauer, Director of Lawrence County Emergency Management Agency, wants to see all residents develop and practice their emergency plans for one simple, but important, reason.
"Because their lives depend on it," she said.
March 18-25 is Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Indiana, a yearly reminder that severe weather can be a threat to anyone at any time. That was made evident earlier this month after a tornado, eventually rated an EF4 in strength, caused devastating loss of life and property in Henryville, Marysville, Pekin, Holton and other southern Indiana communities and states.
Luchauer says most individuals are removed from the realization that a tornado could affect them, when the realization is that this can happen in our community at any time.
Indiana recorded 72 tornadoes last year, including one that hit in the Heltonville area on May 25th.
The National Weather Service will initiate two tornado drills Wednesday - one around 10 a.m. and another around 7:30 p.m. The warning will sound on all hazard alert radios and on most local TV and radio stations. The Bedford Police Department also will activate local tornado sirens.
In the event of real severe weather on March 21, the weather drill will be conducted Thursday.
Residents should participate by checking the batteries in their radios and flashlights and going to a safe location, whether at work, school or home. That location should be an interior room on the lowest level of the structure.
Practicing severe weather preparedness is also a good time to think about having personal items, including a checkbook, medicine, purse or wallet, eye glasses, cell phone and keys in a bag and easily accessible when time to take action.
Luchauer says being prepared should become a habit.
Many people don't take weather preparedness seriously until it's too late. Luchauer says tornado drills and practicing safety plans should not be ignored or pushed to the side.
"When you hear a fire alarm do you ignore it?" she says. "The quicker you can respond to an alert, the greater the opportunity you have for protecting yourself and your family."
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