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Severe tornadoes across the Midwest, South and in at least three North Carolina counties in the past week are a reminder to the University community that these storms can be deadly.

Heeding warnings from weather and emergency management officials is the best strategy for staying safe. People are less likely to be injured if they know what to do when a tornado watch or warning is issued.

That’s the main message behind Gov. Bev Perdue’s proclamation that March 4-10 is Severe Weather Awareness Week. Schools, businesses and government offices around the state will conduct tornado drills on Wednesday, March 7.

The University will not conduct additional drills because this week is spring break for students and faculty. Last week, the University successfully conducted its spring semester siren and emergency text message drill. One of the current criteria for activating the emergency sirens is the National Weather Service issuing a tornado warning (meaning a tornado has been reported on the ground) in Orange County.

A new poster placed in classrooms across campus this semester includes instructions for what you should do if the siren sounds, including for a tornado warning. If you’re not inside, go inside immediately. Move to an interior room on the lowest floor possible. Avoid windows.

For a tornado watch issued in Orange County, the University will send a text message to cell phones registered in the online campus directory. Register your phone.

More details about tornadoes and safety information.

Published March 6, 2012.