How to prepare for a tornado

Though tornadoes are generally uncommon during the winter months, hundreds of Alabamians have already felt the effects of these devastating storms this year.

While we cannot predict where or when a tornado or other natural disaster will strike, we can prepare for one.

The safety of you and your loved ones is of the utmost importance, and for that reason, I would like to share with you some brief information on basic tornado preparedness.

The most critical component is developing a comprehensive plan.

Discussing it ahead of time with your family helps reduce fear and lets everyone know how to respond during a tornado.

The two most important factors to consider is the designation of a safe meeting place and what to include within your emergency supply kit.

The safest place to be is underground, or as low to the ground as possible, and away from all windows.

If your home does not have a basement, you should seek shelter in a center hallway, bathroom or closet on the lowest floor of your home.

The key is to put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Should you find yourself in a mobile home or vehicle during a tornado, it is critical that you get out and seek safer shelter.

Your emergency supply kit should be easily accessible and should include: first aid kit and essential medications, canned food items and a can opener, at least three gallons of water per person per day, a battery-powered portable radio or weather radio, flashlight and extra batteries.

It is important that you practice the plan by conducting tornado drills.

You should also take the time to test your smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries to your radios and flashlights two times a year.

A Tornado Watch is issued when current weather conditions are favorable for producing tornadoes and does not mean that a tornado is actually occurring.

You should listen to you local radio broadcasts and pay close attention to changing weather conditions.

A tornado warning should trigger your family&8217;s disaster plan and you should seek shelter immediately.

For more information, please visit www.fema.gov or http://www.redcross.org.