Category Archives: Drills

NOVA Safety Video

Today is the start of the third week of classes! By now, everyone should be settled in and feeling prepared for the great semester ahead–but do not forget to prepare yourself for emergencies as well!

At the beginning of every semester, the Office of Emergency Management and Safety challenges the entire NOVA community to watch the NOVA Safety Video and refresh yourself on emergency procedures and resources. If you have not watched the video yet, or shared it with your class, please take 10 minutes to do so now.

Statewide Tornado Drill March 22nd at 9:45 AM

The annual Statewide Tornado Drill is scheduled for 9:45am on Tuesday, March 22nd.  NOVA’s faculty, staff, and students who are on campuses or in one of the College’s off-campus locations will participate in this mandatory Statewide Drill.

Severe Weather Shelter Sign

The annual Drill is an opportunity to practice tornado safety by going to Severe Weather Shelter Areas found throughout NOVA facilities.  This Drill encourages the NOVA Community to review emergency procedures and ensure everyone is ready to act FAST if a Tornado Warning is issued.

In the event that there is severe weather and a Tornado Warning has been issued – SEEK SHELTER IMMEDIATELY!

    • The nearest Severe Weather Shelter Area (as seen in the example on the right) OR
    • An appropriate area capable of providing protection from the event:
      • Hardened structure
      • Interior hallway or room free of windows or other glass structures
      • At the lowest level possible in the building – use stairs, do NOT use elevators
    • Use your arms to protect your head and neck.  Protect your body from flying debris with any available furniture or sturdy equipment.
    • Do NOT open windows.
    • Take account of your co-workers and/or students and attempt to locate missing persons if safety permits.


Tornado Watch
A tornado is possible in your area.  You should monitor weather-alert radios and local radio and TV stations for information.

Tornado Warning
A tornado has been sighted in the area or has been indicated by National Weather Service Doppler radar.  When a Warning is issued, take cover immediately.

Tornados can happen anytime, anywhere, with little or no warning.  Knowing what to do when seconds count can save lives.  For more information visit the Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s website .

Earthquake Drill October 15th at 10:15

October 15th at 10:15 AM, NOVA will participate in The Great SouthEast ShakeOut Regional Earthquake Drill.

What do I do?

An announcement will be made at 10:15 AM using the intercom telephone system to start the Earthquake Drill.  Once the announcement is made, you should DROP, COVER, and HOLD ON!  

The Timeline will be as follows:

10:15   An announcement will be made that the Drill is starting. “This is the start of the Regional Earthquake Drill, please drop, cover, and hold on!”  At this time, you should drop to the ground, take cover under a table or sturdy desk, and hold on to it until the shaking stops.

10:20   An announcement will be made that the Earthquake Drill is over.  “The Earthquake Drill is over, please evacuate your building.”  At this time, evacuate the building and report to your assembly point.  *Persons with disabilities should seek assistance in evacuations.      

10:35   No announcement will be made, but the Drill has officially concluded.  You should re-enter your building and go back to your office or continue class as scheduled.

Note* Mobility challenged individuals are encouraged to do the following:

  • If you are in a wheelchair: Lock your wheels and remain seated until the shaking stops and always protect your head and neck with your arms, a pillow, book, or whatever may be available.
  • Practice your individual emergency evacuation plan during the evacuation phase of this Drill.
  • Relocate to an Area of Assistance (if you are on a floor that does not exit directly outdoors) and wait there until the Drill is complete.
  • Please refer to the Emergency Action Plan for more information.

Family Earthquake Drill

Many Virginians remember where they were and how they reacted on August 23, 2011, when an historic 5.8 earthquake centered in Louisa County.  Although we do not experience earthquakes often in Virginia, that day is a reminder that we need to be prepared and know what to do.  October is Earthquake Preparedness Month.  If the ground starts shaking, what do you do?  Drop, Cover and Hold On!  Earthquakes happen without warning, and the shaking may be so severe that you cannot run or crawl.  DROP to the ground.  Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops.

It is important to know where you should go for protection when your home starts to shake.  By planning and practicing what to do before an earthquake occurs, you can condition yourself and your family to react correctly and spontaneously when the first jolt or shaking is felt.  An earthquake drill can teach your family what to do in an earthquake.

  • Each family member should know safe spots in each room.
  • Safe spots: The best places to be are under heavy pieces of furniture, such as a desk or sturdy table; under supported archways; and against inside walls.
  • Danger spots: Stay away from windows, hanging objects, mirrors, fireplaces, and tall unsecured pieces of furniture.
  • Reinforce this knowledge by physically placing yourself in the safe locations. This is especially important for children.
  • In the days or weeks after this exercise, hold surprise drills.
  • Be prepared to deal with what you may experience after an earthquake — both physically and emotionally.

For more information about earthquake emergency procedures at NOVA, please visit For additional earthquake preparedness tips, visit or

NOVA’s Office of Emergency Management and Woodbridge Campus Conduct Simulated Emergency Functional Exercise to Test Emergency Response

What would you do if an emergency occurred on your campus? How would you and your department respond? These were questions asked on May 27th when NOVA’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and Woodbridge Campus conducted a simulated, interactive functional exercise.Functional Exercise 2 

The functional exercise was designed to test the coordination, integration, and interaction of the NOVA and Woodbridge Campus policies, procedures, roles, and responsibilities during the simulated event. Woodbridge Campus staff responded in real-time with on-the-spot decisions and actions made in a simulated stressful environment. All of the participants’ decisions and actions generated real responses and consequences from other staff members.

Woodbridge Campus Provost Dr. Sam Hill complimented the realistic aspects of the exercise and the readiness of his Woodbridge team. Dr. Hill added, “All of the participants came away with an understanding of how critical it is to function as a team during emergencies” and also emphasized the exercise “will make us more appreciative of advance preparation for emergencies.” Dr. Hill commended NOVA and OEM for increasing awareness and appreciation of emergency drills because it drives home the fact that everyone needs to be knowledgeable about their roles during an emergency.

Functional ExerciseNOVA’s OEM will conduct this functional exercise at all NOVA campuses to ensure each campus has the opportunity to learn from this valuable training opportunity. If you have any questions about this exercise or general emergency response topics, please email OEM at