Indiana holds tornado drills Wednesday

Children at Indianapolis schools participating in this morning's drill.
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Tornado siren drills are taking place across the state Wednesday to get your family prepared for severe storms.

The first test sounded during the 10 o'clock hour, and at the IPS School of Inquiry, students were prepared.

"If you've got a plan, you've practiced your plan, regardless of what that plan is, you're better prepared for when the storm strikes," said Dave Tucek of the Indianapolis National Weather Service.

The test is a yearly drill, but the tornadoes in southern Indiana have renewed safety concerns closer to home.

Surviving the storm - see tips on what to do before, during and after severe storms.

Tammy Bullock, a teacher at the IPS school, said, "It's kind of that awareness that happened down in southern Indiana. We need to know what to do before these tragic events happen."

During the drill students walked out of their classrooms lined with windows to a safe interior hallway, where they got down and covered up. Students stayed in their safe positions until the warning was cleared, giving them confidence to make the right decision.

According to Carol Greeley from the American Red Cross, "They're not going to be scared. They know exactly where to go to keep themselves safe and that's important."

You'll have another chance to practice your family's preparedness plan Wednesday night during the 7 o'clock hour when the tornado sirens sound again.

Keep in mind, tornado sirens are only supposed to warn you when you are outside, a weather radio is the best way to receive weather warnings in your home.

What to do when the siren sounds

Emergency officials say it's important to take the drill seriously and really think about what to do if you hear a warning siren. Decide where you would go and, if you have children or pets, where you would take them.  

"You can double check, if you're in an office building, if you're at the bank, if you're on the road, what would you do when that warning goes off," said Dan McCarthy of the National Weather Service.

The idea is to seek shelter in the lowest part of a building in an interior room. If you're in a vehicle, get out, because, as we saw recently in southern Indiana, cars and trucks were flipped and tossed around.

Even if you don't "act it out" by running and hiding in the basement when you hear the sirens today, at least have a plan you and your family discuss.

Also talk about other scenarios:

What would you do if you were in the car?
On a walk in the park?
On your way to a friends house or the grocery store?

The Department of Homeland Security advises it's what you do before severe weather strikes that makes the difference between life and death, because once you hear the alert, you don't have much time.

Arvin Copeland of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security said, "It's the difference between being able to gather up your family and get downstairs to a safe place. That's tremendously important at 30 seconds."

Pay attention to early warning systems with devices such as NOAA radios, local news and weather broadcasts, and load weather and radar applications on your smart phone.

An emergency kit is also recommended. Pack enough bottled water, food, first aid supplies, medicine, flashlights, batteries, and supplies to sustain babies and pets for 72 hours.

The Emergency Alert System that includes broadcast outlets around the state will take part in the exercise.

If actual severe weather threatens at the time set for the test, the weather service says it will be postponed until the next day.

National Weather Service - Tornado guide