Preparing for Storm Season
In truth, all year is pretty much tornado season in Oklahoma. But the prime conditions begin around late March and continue through August in a typical year. Oklahoma City, in fact, has more tornado strikes than any other city in the United States.
Prepare Your Tornado Plan – Just as schools and offices have specific plans in the case of a tornado, so should you for your home. The first thing you need to do is designate your “shelter room.” If your house doesn’t have an underground storm shelter, you should choose the area that is the lowest, smallest, and most central. Often this is a cellar or basement, or it may be a central hallway or bathroom. Make sure you are as far as possible from outside walls and windows.
Know the Dangers of Mobile Homes – For those living in mobile homes, your tornado plan should take you to a preselected, permanent structure. If the warning time is not sufficient, you should never attempt to drive when a tornado is near. You are safer lying in a ditch or depression than driving or remaining in a mobile home.
Always Stay Weather-Informed – With today’s technology, media outlets often know a couple of days in advance when conditions are right for tornadoes. Keep informed on the forecast, and always watch for signs of possible tornadoes such as:
- A dark, greenish sky.
- A wall cloud.
- A cloud rotation or strong, swirling winds.
- A loud roar, often described as sounding like a freight train.
Act Quickly – If your area is in a tornado warning, don’t waste time. Grab your tornado kit, pillows, and blankets and get immediately to your shelter room. Make sure everyone is wearing his or her sturdy shoes. Use the radio to listen to weather broadcasts, and don’t leave your shelter room until the tornado danger has passed. If a tornado strikes, use pillows, blankets, arms and hands to cover your neck and head.
Know Your Aftermath Plan – Your entire family should have a designated area to meet just in case you are separated during a tornado. Treat anyone who may be injured, but don’t move anyone who is seriously injured unless preventing them from further injury. Help any neighbors who may require assistance, but stay out of damaged buildings if at all possible. Leave immediately if you smell gas or chemical fumes.
Stay Calm – Both before and after a tornado, it is easy and quite understandable to experience panic. However, being prepared and staying calm will increase your response time, ensure you make the right decisions, and often save lives.
Prepare Your Tornado Kit – Every household should have an emergency kit that is easily accessible when tornado conditions arrive. A tornado kit should include:
- A battery-powered radio or television.
- A flashlight.
- Extra batteries for both of the above.
- A first aid kit.
- Sturdy shoes for every member of the family.
- Identification and cash.
- A spare set of keys for vehicles.