“In many cases, not all cases, but in many cases, children may be better off at school than they are at home alone,” Smith said. “Some of the kids in the school district may live in mobile homes. If they’re home alone, they’re in a more dangerous place than if they’d gone to school.”
Smith said it is not his job to tell school districts what to do, but his opinion is that canceling school may not be the best choice for keeping many children safe.
Schools are working on developing expedited procedures for checking kids out on a high tornado risk day so that parents can take children home if desired.
One element to consider is creating a paper trail of who has been checked out in case of power failure.
“The schools have some good plans,” Smith said. “They’ve thought about a lot of this. I’m impressed at the dedication with everything the principal and teacher has to think about during severe weather.
“The more planning you can do in advance, the better off you’re going to be in April and May when you have to use those plans,” Smith said.
Advance planning and preparation allows for people to “do the right thing when it really counts,” he said.
Several local first responders, emergency managers, city leaders and forecasters from Norman, Moore, and Oklahoma City will speak at the Tornado Summit. Additionally, speakers from Joplin, Mo., and other national experts will be on hand with information about tornado preparedness, early warning, tornado recovery and more.
The Tornado Summit is hosted by the Oklahoma Insurance Department, University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma Emergency Management, National Weather Center, NOAA, Storm Prediction Center and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
The event will serve as a forum for national and state experts to exchange ideas and recommend new policies to improve disaster mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery in order to save lives and property.