Tips for when the warning siren sounds

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Monday evening’s tornado warnings across the southern portion of our county served as clear reminders that Mother Nature deserves our respect. Fortunately, little damage resulted from the storms in our area but just simply because we were fortunate with this storm does not suggest we should take severe weather lightly.

Below you will find practical information for you and your family from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Taking time now to make severe weather preparations will be well worth your time.

A few tornado preparedness tips:

u When a tornado is coming, you have only a short amount of time to make life-or-death decisions. Advance planning and quick response are the keys to surviving a tornado.

u Conduct tornado drills each tornado season.

u Designate an area in the home as a shelter, and practice having everyone in the family go there in response to a tornado threat. In a home or building, move to a pre-designated shelter, such as a basement. If an underground shelter is not available, move to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor and get under a sturdy piece of furniture.

u Stay away from windows.

u Get out of automobiles.

u Discuss with family members the difference between a &8220;tornado watch&8221; and a &8220;tornado warning.&8221;

u Mitigation includes any activities that prevent an emergency, reduce the chance of an emergency happening, or lessen the damaging effects of unavoidable emergencies. Investing in preventive mitigation steps now, such as checking local building codes and ordinances about wind-resistant designs and strengthening unreinforced masonry, will help reduce the impact of tornadoes in the future. For more information on mitigation, contact your local emergency management office.

u Have disaster supplies on hand: Flashlight and extra batteries, portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries, first aid kit and manual, emergency food and water, nonelectric can opener, essential medicines, cash and credit cards, sturdy shoes.

u Have a NOAA Weather Radio with a warning alarm tone and battery back-up to receive warnings.

u In case family members are separated from one another during a tornado (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), have a plan for getting back together.

u Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the &8220;family contact.&8221; After a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.

u A tornado watch is issued by the National Weather Service when tornadoes are possible in your area. Remain alert for approaching storms. A tornado warning is issued when a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.

Contact our local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter for more information on tornadoes