Update:Public Schools Participate in Tornado Drill

By: Terra Hall Email
By: Terra Hall Email

As the clock struck 10:15 a.m., every student at Riley Elementary School was silent.

The students spilled into the hallways and crouched along the walls with their hands on their heads.

"Since it wasn't a real one I was really scared at all" said third grader Faith Steen, 9. "I think I did a good job because we weren't supposed to talk and I didn't talk at all."

Riley Elementary School principal Ruth Ann Wilie called the drill over the school's intercom.

"We want kids, and also staff, to know what to do in an emergency," said Wilie. We don't want them to be scared and we want them to be practiced."

The students had practiced the tornado drill in their individual classes, but the first time this year the whole school did the drill together.

"I felt pretty safe about it," said Emily Westfaul, an 8-year-old second grader. "If there was a real tornado, you need to get prepared for it so you know what to do and you know where to go."

Which is important because Nebraska averages 42 tornadoes a year. Fifty-nine tornadoes snaked across the state in 2008.

"It's like anything we do. We want them to feel comfortable doing it. If they've practiced it before, it becomes more second nature to them," said Wilie.

"It's good practice because if it was real and you didn't know what to do, you might be talking and wouldn't hear what was happening," Faith said.

"I felt very safe because if it was a real tornado and it took the roof off and we were just standing it could like just take us," said Austin Reinke, 6, a kindergartner at the school.

Wiley says her students made the grade when it comes to tornado preparedness.

"Sometimes they'll get a little excited but it's become a way of doing business," said Wilie. "We're practiced. We're ready. And the kids just do what they're supposed to do. They do their job."

And while Wednesday's scenario was just a drill, teachers and students appreciate the practice so they will be prepared if a tornado strikes.

To keep you, your family and your pets safe, the National Weather Service said it's a good idea to prepare a shelter in advance.

The ideal shelter would be a basement, a storm cellar or an interior, windowless room close to or below the ground. You'll want to store a flashlight and a battery powered radio or small TV, as well as padded blankets or a mattress near or in this room. Non perishables and bottled water will also come in handy.

For more tips on tornado safety, go to our web-channel and click on the hot button.

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