While Kent State’s campus may still be covered in snow, it’s not too early to begin thinking about spring weather: The occasional sunshine, the warm breezes, the spring showers.
Unfortunately, with the respite from the frostbite-causing cold and the slick sheets of ice comes yet another delight of Ohio weather: Tornado season.
According to FEMA, Ohio is a part of “Tornado Alley,” the 11 states with the highest risk of the severe storms. Tornadoes can form at any time during the year, but March — less than two weeks away — marks the beginning of the unofficial season. About 14 appear in Ohio every year; one usually shows up in the Northeast Ohio area, geography professor Thomas Schmidlin told a Daily Kent Stater reporter. Schmidlin has studied tornado hazards.
Good thing Kent State’s residence hall residents know exactly what to do in the case of a tornado watch or warning.
Industrious students might be able to find the information on small plaques in their buildings or on Residence Services’ Web site by searching through a few pages. Most of the locations can be found pretty much by common sense — if you can get to the bottom floor, away from windows and doors, you’ve probably found the safest spot possible.
But most people know the basics behind getting out of a burning building, and the halls hold fire drills all the time — almost too often, students might complain. But annoying as it may be to have “The Office” interrupted by an automated voice politely asking you to leave the hall, it’s important students know the proper procedure. Having drills familiarizes students with the sound of the alarm, as well as where the nearest exit is. It also minimizes panic. Repetition makes the out-of-the-ordinary mundane, and that’s definitely helpful in keeping the calm under pressure.
According to Kent State Police Chief John Peach, the Department of Public Safety recommends an annual statewide tornado drill, and Kent State’s has fallen during spring break the past few years.
While this is certainly better than no drill at all, it makes absolutely no sense that the university wouldn’t hold one when students could benefit. If there was a tornado, how would the staff let students know where they should seek shelter and how they should get there? That’s an unfair burden to place on the resident assistants, the hall directors and the campus security.
We all know what the siren sounds like — at least they test that twice a month — but does anyone know how to tell if it’s the real thing? This would leave the employees of each hall — not to mention each academic building — responsible for gathering and informing the people there. How would they get in contact with everyone in a building complex as large as Tri-Towers?
The chance of a tornado striking Kent State’s campus is rare, but it doesn’t make sense to be unprepared. The chances of a residence hall catching fire may seem unlikely too, but it happened in Allyn Hall in 2005. It can’t hurt to be ready, just in case.
At least tornado drills wouldn’t leave anybody out in the cold in the middle of the night.
The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.