What to do in a tornado if you're at school

By: Victoria Maranan Email
By: Victoria Maranan Email

DENISON, TX-With the heart of severe weather season approaching fast, we continue our tornado preparedness series on what you can do in a tornado if you're at school.
The National Weather Service said that tornado safety in schools is unique because plans have to be in sync with the building design. I spoke with area school officials on what they are planning to do in case of a tornado.
Denison superintendent, Dr. Henry Scott said schools in the district tornado drills often.

"During this time of the year when bad weather is imminent, we do two or three in the spring normally to make sure that students are prepared to deal with that," he said.

Every school was given a manual, outlining plans in case of emergency situations like severe storms.

"All of our schools have an area that they can go to, maybe the cafeteria or another location. The main thing is to not be up against glass from outside," he said.

During athletic events, Denison ISD determines whether a game should be delayed or cancelled through the "flash-bang method" or the use of lightning monitors, which measures the distance of the storm.

"If it gets within 10 miles, it's time to delay. It's dangerous. Lightning has been detected to actually reach from Dallas to Waco, it can reach an amazingly long distance,” said Denison High School trainer, Michael Fischer

Grayson College director of public safety, Andrew McPherson said the college is well equipped for severe storms, especially after it had some damage in the 2008 tornado.

"We do have severe weather shelters throughout the campus and they are posted in every building, in every classroom, so they know where to go. As a matter of fact, when we conducted our latest tornado drill, we got to use it and see how effective they were," he said.

McPherson said residence halls are some of the safest places on campus because they are made of cinder blocks and safety glass, much like military barracks.

"In both of our residence halls, they are solidly built constructions. Matter of fact, our Jensen hall was part of the Perrin military base so it's good air force engineering so it's a solid construction. They typically go in the first floor in the center hallway because there are no windows," he said.

Both McPherson and Dr. Scott said it's best to have a plan and know if severe weather is on its way.

"If you're not prepared, it can cost you loss of life with out staff and our students," Scott said.

"The best thing we can recommend is be aware and there are so many opportunities out there from iPhone apps that can give you weather radar to code red," said McPherson.

Scott also pointed out students in portable buildings will be sent to a safe area in the school's main building at the event of a tornado.

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