Plant City, Florida - Tornadoes can happen anywhere and we've seen what they can do here in the Tampa Bay area. But how prepared are our schools and students if a tornado appears during the school day?
According to Florida's Department of Education, there is no law requiring schools to conduct a number of tornado drills each year. That decision is left up to the school districts. But the standard for Bay area school districts appears to be two tornado drills per school year. Oklahoma law does require schools to hold two drills a year.
On Tuesday the flag flew half staff at Knight's Elementary in Plant City, in memory of the Oklahoma's victims, and it was a reminder for students and staff to be ready.
The images from Moore, Oklahoma leave an impression in these 5th graders' minds there's the size.
"It was a really big tornado," says 11-year-old Ally Black.
"It was a 200 miles per hour I think," says Marissa Zolna, 11.
And there are pictures of the damage. "The number of people that survive surprises me, about that," says Adonte VanDuyne, 10.
Marissa says, "Now we know what can happen."
These Knights Elementary students recall a tornado warning of their own two years ago.
Ally says, "I was really scared. Luckily, it didn't hit our school."
The students say they were ready. Besides everyday reminders of emergency procedures posted in class, two tornado drills a year help prepare them.
Marissa says, "If one did hit us, we knew what to do: stay calm, crouch down. We'd be fine."
First an alarm sounds and the principal announces a tornado warning over the intercom. The students take shelter near an interior wall.
Adonte says, "The wall is very strong."
Ally adds, "It's an interior wall, away from glass and doors"
"You come to the wall, first thing [you do is] crouch down and cover your head," explains Adonte.
The students will lower their heads close to the floor for maximum protection and stay in that position until the danger passes. Students say knowing what to do help them feel protected.
"You feel safer," says Ally.
The school's principal, Janine Hall, says the school has been through one Tornado Warning in five years. Tornado Watches happen more frequently.
In case of a Tornado Watch, Hall says students stay inside, review tornado warning procedures just in case, then need to take action.