Sirens across Georgia sound off to test students

The Dougherty County School System holds similar drills throughout the year

It was just like any other morning at Sherwood Acres Elementary, until 9 a.m. when the kids were up and out of their seats for an annual emergency drill that prepares students for extreme weather. "We're always alert for those things and from time to time we have routine practices to carry out what our plan is to take care of those incidents," says Dougherty County School System spokesman R.D. Harter.

And while this drill went on across the state, the Dougherty County School System holds similar drills throughout the year. "We also have fire drills monthly; we have a number of ways to test our preparedness for emergency situations," says Harter.

Each student leaves the classroom and heads into the hall, where they kneel and ball up, so they're out of harm's way if a tornado were to hit. These drills also act as learning tools for situations outside the classroom. "Safety is everyone's business. Problems don't just happen at schools; they happen at home, they happen out in the community. And so kids learn that if an alarm sounds crouch down in a corner away from windows, some of these things are lessons that apply to wherever you are," says Harter.

School officials say the drills also help them iron out any kinks, so they work as smoothly as possible should a real emergency happen.

"Dead batteries in a radio headset, things like that, that we need to fix. That's why it's important to have drills so we can check communication systems and check to see that children, teachers, and staff know what to do," says Harter.

Harter says the drill Wednesday was a success and that they didn't run into any problems.

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency is also pushing Georgians to gear up for weather emergencies. GEMA's Ready Georgia campaign is asking everyone in Georgia to get a NOAA Weather Radio and identify a place to take shelter in case of tornadoes.

Emergency Management Director Jim Vaught says a radio can really help out in an emergency. The radio will not only tell you what's coming your way, but also what you should do. "A loud alarm goes off in your house, so if you missed the siren or you turned your phone off for the evening, you have the radio to wake you up and tell you about danger possibly coming your way," says Vaught.

Vaught says a basic radio doesn't cost much to buy, maybe $20-$30, and could help save your life.