GREENCASTLE -- Governor Mitch Daniels has proclaimed March 14 to 20 as Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Indiana.
The National Weather Service, in conjunction with the Indiana State Police, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indiana BroadcastersAssociation, the American Red Cross and Amateur Radio Operators will conduct a statewide test of communication systems on March 17 between 10:15 and 10:30 a.m. and between 7:30 and 7:45 p.m.
If tests are postponed due to weather issues they will take place at the same times as above on March 18.
Putnam County Emergency Management Services will be participating in the drill by sounding the tornado sirens.
"The goal of Severe Weather Preparedness Week is to better educate people about the hazards of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, and to help everyone be prepared should severe weather occur," said Putnam County Emergency Management Director Kim Hyten.
Tornado safety is a major concern, particularly in the spring. Last year Indiana had 11 tornadoes. The average is 20, with the most recorded being 49 in 1990.
"Tornadoes occur year round, but are most likely from April to June most often between 3 and 8 p.m. with a second peak from 12 to 3 a.m." according to the National Weather Service.
Average speed of a tornado is 30 miles per hour, but varies from zero to 70 mph. The general width is about 100 yards but can reach one mile wide.
If you hear the sirens go off or hear a warning of a tornado in the area, go to the basement if available or to an interior room on the lowest floor such as a closet or bathroom. Wrap yourself in coats or blankets to protect yourself from flying debris.
If you happen to be in your car, a mobile home or outside and can leave the structure for a more substantial building or designated tornado shelter, do so immediately.
If you are in a high-rise building, go to the interior small rooms or halls. Stay away from exterior walls or glassy areas.
In schools, hospitals, factories or shopping centers go to interior rooms and hallways on the lowest levels. Stay away from glass enclosed places or areas with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums and warehouses. Follow the instructions of the facility safety officer.
Severe weather warnings include:
Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible in your area. Remain alert for approaching storms.
Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. If a tornado warning is issued for your area and the sky becomes threatening, move to your pre-designated place of safety.
Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Severe thunderstorms are possible in your area.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Severe thunderstorms are occurring.
Remember, tornadoes occasionally develop in areas in which a severe thunderstorm watch or warning is in effect. Remain alert to signs of an approaching tornado and seek shelter if threatening conditions exist.
Families should be prepared for all hazards that affect their area. NOAA's National Weather Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross urge each family to develop a family disaster plan.
Where will your family be when disaster strikes? They could be anywhere -- at work, at school, or in the car. How will you find each other? Will you know if your children are safe? Disasters may force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. What would you do if basic services -- water, gas, electricity or telephones -- were cut off?
Follow these basic steps to develop a family disaster plan.
Gather information about hazards. Contact your local National Weather Service office, emergency management or civil defense office and American Red Cross chapter. Find out what type of disasters could occur and how you should respond. Learn your community's warning signals and evacuation plans.
Meet with your family to create a plan. Discuss the information you have gathered. Pick two places to meet: a spot outside your home for an emergency, such as fire, and a place away from your neighborhood in case you can't return home. Choose an out-of-state friend as your "family check-in contact" for everyone to call if the family gets separated. Discuss what you would do if advised to evacuate.
Implement your plan (1) Post emergency telephone numbers by phones; (2) Install safety features in your house, such as smoke detectors and fire extinguishers; (3) Inspect your home for potential hazards (such as items that can move, fall, break, or catch fire) and correct them; (4) Have your family learn basic safety measures, such as CPR and first aid, how to use a fire extinguisher and how and when to turn off water, gas, and electricity in your home; (5) Teach children how and when to call 911 or your local Emergency Medical Services number; (6) Keep enough supplies in your home to meet your needs for at least three days. Assemble a disaster supplies kit with items you may need in case of an evacuation.
Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers, such as backpacks or duffle bags. Keep important family documents in a waterproof container. Keep a smaller disaster supplies kit in the trunk of your car.
For more information visit www.nws.noaa.gov.