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VARC Hosts Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week

The week of April 17-21, VARC staff and clients learned about severe weather safety, listened to experts, played games, and won prizes at multiple VARC divisions throughout southwest Wisconsin.

If you have nothing polite to add to a conversation, Jane Austen famously suggested in her novel Pride and Prejudice that one need only restrict their comments to the weather. This is because the weather is a great unifier; the ever-fluctuating status of the skies is something we are all forced to plan around with such regularity that no one even thinks much about it, apart from our solicited daily forecasts from web browsers or televisions. So it’s a great irony that the stuff of safe, courteous conversations is hardly safe or polite in nature when dealt with firsthand.

Severe weather in Wisconsin encompasses a wide range of hazardous conditions that take on different forms throughout the seasons—thunderstorms, damaging winds, tornadoes, large hail, flooding, flash flooding, winter storms. It takes a brave person and strong windshield wipers to enjoy driving on icy roads through winter sleet, freezing rain, snow, and strong winds. Wisconsin averages 23 tornadoes per year, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). Additionally, the NWS confirmed that our state suffered 28 total tornado touchdowns throughout 2022, spelling out that severe weather isn’t just a concern but a hardcore reality. Learning to deal with extreme weather means knowing how to prepare for and protect yourself from the potentially fatal elements of Wisconsin’s rapidly changing climate.

Organizations throughout the country have designated one week in April as Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week, which acts as a great opportunity to review a company’s emergency plans in the event of a severe weather strike. VARC’s Safety Committee was proud to participate by hosting Emergency Preparedness Week this past April 17-21.

Our primary divisions learned about the latest information in weather protection by participating in safety activities, playing games, and winning prizes in a safety-themed company-wide daily trivia contest. Winning clients and staff from each division took home $25 Kwik Trip gift cards and brand-new weather radios.

VARC was thrilled and grateful to welcome various safety experts from our local communities in Vernon, Sauk, La Crosse, Monroe, Richland, and Juneau counties. In addition, members from our fire departments brought over equipment and rescue vehicles and shared their knowledge with VARC clients and staff on the latest severe weather safety tips, and the importance of being prepared.

Mauston Fire Department’s Fire Chief Kim Hale, along with firefighter Bob Curran gave a presentation for weather awareness week. We learned the difference between a fire whistle and a Tornado siren.

In the event of severe weather, the National Weather Service will issue watches and warnings on local radio and television stations to immediately alert the public when severe weather is probable or imminent. Often these communications will give guidance on seeking appropriate shelter or avoiding travel. Public safety officials can activate local warning systems, like outdoor sirens, in an attempt to alert the surrounding community.

Emergency Preparedness Week was a massive success at VARC, and the organization looks forward to doing it all again next April.

About the Safety Committee

The Safety Committee has been an active part of VARC since VARC began in 1975. Its purpose is to promote a culture of health and safety, to help reduce the risk of workplace injuries and illnesses and ensure compliance with federal and state health and safety regulations through various policies, procedures, and events. 

The current Safety Committee Members include:

Travis Boylen: Director of Production, Safety Chair

Jeff Roberts: General Manager

April Sullivan: Production Supervisor

Risa Mauss: Director of Client Services

Tia Getter-Skrede: HR Manager