U.Va. to Test Emergency Alert System During March 18 Statewide Tornado Drill

March 12, 2008 — The University of Virginia will use the statewide Tornado Preparedness Day on March 18 to test its new emergency notification system. In addition, the University will provide information on what to do in the event a tornado warning is issued.

According to Marge Sidebottom, director of emergency preparedness, U.Va. will employ the UVaAlerts text message, e-mail and LCD screen display systems as part of the tornado drill. A test message will be sent via these systems. Recipients are asked to note the time and method of notification and to complete a brief, Web-based survey to help evaluate the systems.

"We will be looking to see how quickly these messages are delivered and to determine  issues with systems that might need to be refined ," said Sidebottom.

The 10-minute drill is scheduled to begin at 9:45 a.m. throughout the commonwealth.

"This is an opportunity to heighten people's awareness about having a plan in the event of a tornado," said Sidebottom. "We hope this drill will prompt everyone to think about their plans — not only for the workplace, but also for their home and personal safety.  To be safe, we need to include all hazards as we plan."

Sidebottom noted that the upcoming drill is particularly pertinent given recent outbreaks of violent weather around the country and in Virginia.

"There are a few basics for any emergency, and effective communications is at the head of that list," Sidebottom said.

To register for the UVaAlerts, faculty, staff and students should go to www.virginia.edu/uvaalerts/.