UGA readies for tornado drill, UGAAlert test

UGA readies for tornado drill, UGAAlert test

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia will participate in a campus-wide tornado drill and test of its emergency notification system, UGAAlert, on Feb. 4 as part of the state of Georgia’s Severe Weather Awareness Week.

The drill, which usually occurs between 9 a.m. and noon, should last only a few minutes, said Pete Golden, emergency operations coordinator in the UGA Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness. It also will mark the first use since August for UGAAlert, which contacts about 60,000 people through phone calls, text messages and e-mail. Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to log onto the UGAAlert page at www.ugaalert.uga.edu to check that their contact information is accurate.

The drill will affect students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus. Each building on campus is encouraged to participate through its designated building safety and security representatives, who are responsible for developing emergency plans and operations for their buildings. A list of BSSRs is available on OSEP’s Web site at https://busfin1.busfin.uga.edu/osepforms/building_list.html.

“It’s important for us to have as many buildings as we can participate in this drill because each building presents a unique problem of how best to move people and where to move them,” said John Newton, emergency operations coordinator at OSEP. “We have buildings on campus that are uniquely designed. Some of them have several large lecture halls, others have lots of windows or glass, so it’s good for people in those building to be prepared for the challenges they could face if a tornado does come through.”

For those interested in reporting on their experience during the event, a post-drill survey form will be available to the campus community after the drill on OSEP’s Web site at osep.uga.edu.

Several tornadoes struck Georgia last year, affecting parts of downtown Atlanta and even other educational institutions, such as Macon State College.

People who are outside at the time of the drill should find shelter, either inside a building or in a low, protected space such as a ditch. It’s important to stay away from vehicles, glass in buildings and bridges, Newton said.

If there is a threat of severe weather on Feb. 4, the test will be postponed. The reschedule date is Feb. 6.

Severe Weather Awareness Week is an annual event sponsored by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, the state governor’s office and the National Weather Service. Its aim is to ensure Georgians have sufficient emergency plans and public education to prepare them for natural or man-made disasters.

In addition to UGA, state institutions as well as private businesses across Athens and the state will participate in the tornado drill.

For information on specific buildings, please contact your BSSR. For more information on UGA’s involvement in Severe Weather Awareness Week or tornado safety tips, contact the OSEP office at (706) 542-5845.