Be Weather Wise

Be Weather Wise

Spring is here, and it’s the time for those of us in tornado alley to think about the dreaded, but inevitable, storm season. Unfortunately, tornadoes and thunderstorms are commonplace, and they can happen fast. We shouldn’t become complacent when it comes to being prepared.

Make sure you are weather wise with these tips: 

  • Prepare an emergency kit. The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) recommends having at least 72 hours of food, water and supplies. See the list. If a tornado hits, you could be without electricity and other services for days. 
  • Make a communications plan. In a disaster situation, the phone systems may be overwhelmed. Keep calls brief and use text messaging. Here are more tips. Also, be sure to discuss your plans with family so everyone knows what to expect. 
  • Stay informed about the weather. Keep a close eye on this information whenever storms are in the area whether on TV, the radio, or using a weather app on your phone. If you’re concerned about the weather, it’s a good time to start charging your phone.
  • Don’t rely only on the tornado siren. The siren is an important warning system, but if you’re asleep or watching TV, you might not hear it. Have a back-up alert system.
  • Set up an alert system. Weather alerts may automatically be sent to your phone, but also consider buying a NOAA Weather Radio for about $20. Don’t forget the batteries! 
  • Take cover. The safest place to be in a tornado is a reinforced, underground storm shelter. If you can’t get underground, the safest place is in the most interior room on the lowest level of a well-built home. Put as many walls between you and the outside as you can. Just remember to take something like a mattress, pillow, or sleeping bag to protect you from flying debris—a tornado’s most lethal weapon. Experts even recommend wearing a bicycle helmet, which you can pick up at a thrift store for a few dollars. 
  • Evacuate your mobile home or vehicle. Find stronger shelter immediately. Try to do so before the tornado is imminent. Many people are killed or injured trying to make it to a safer location because they waited too long. This is the reason many communities don’t have a community storm shelter, because people wait too long and are killed in route to the shelter. 
Besides just being weather aware, there are three main things to remember in the event of a tornado:

  • GET IN – Get as far inside a strong building as you can, away from doors and windows.
  • GET DOWN – Get to the lowest floor. 
  • COVER UP – Use whatever you can to protect yourself from flying or falling debris. Share this information with your children, too. Stay safe out there this spring!

Karla Gibson is a life-long Okie and proud sister of a certified Storm Spotter and the Deputy Director of Emergency Management for Durant and Bryan County.

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