Tornado Drill

Save the date! 2017 Statewide Tornado Drill
The annual Statewide Tornado Drill will take place Tuesday, March 21, 2017, at 9:45 a.m.  The date will be observed as Tornado Preparedness Day.  (If widespread severe weather threatens the commonwealth on that date, then the drill will be rescheduled for Wednesday, March 22, at 9:45 a.m.)

How to Conduct a Tornado Drill

Tornadoes can happen anytime, anywhere, with little or no warning. Knowing what to do when seconds count can save lives.  It’s really important to practice tornado safety by holding a drill in your home, workplace and school.

Note for Families:The instructions below explain how organizations can conduct a tornado drill, but you also can follow them to conduct a drill in your home with your family. When the instructions refer to "organization," just think of your family. When they refer to "employees," think of the members of your family.

Designate one or more people in your organization to coordinate your drill and have them follow the steps below.

Before the drill

  • Before the drill, make sure that your employees are aware that you are having a tornado drill, that they understand what will take place during the drill and that they know the safest places to be during a tornado.
    • The safest place typically is a building’s basement away from windows.  If there is no basement, go to a windowless interior room such as a closet, bathroom or interior hall on the lowest level of the building

During the drill

  • Announce the start of the drill by using a public address system or having designated volunteers alert staff.  Do this by going room to room and floor by floor of your building.
  • Employees should act as though a tornado warning has been issued for the immediate area or a tornado has been sighted near the building.  They should evacuate as quickly as possible to the nearest safe place.  Use stairs to reach the lowest level of a building; avoid using elevators.
  • In a real tornado emergency, once people reach safe areas they would crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down and cover their heads with their hands.  Ensure that everyone in your organization knows this.  You can practice crouching down.
  • After all employees have evacuated, the drill coordinator can announce that the tornado has passed and the drill is over.  Employees can then return to their offices.

After the drill

  • The drill coordinator should document any necessary changes in the evacuation procedure.
    • Do more safe areas need to be identified?
    • Are some safe areas cluttered and need to be cleaned out to be more accessible?
    • Do employees know the fastest routes to take to safe areas?
    • Is a better method for letting employees know of an approaching tornado needed?

If you or your drill coordinator have questions or concerns about conducting a drill, please contact the Virginia Department of Emergency Management  at (804) 897-6500 or write to