When weather forecasts predict the possibility of a tornado in your area, it is imperative you and your family have a plan to respond to the threat. The National Weather Service, as part of Severe Weather Awareness Week, offers these tips:
Before a Tornado Watch or Warning is issued…
Pick a tornado safe room in your home or place of business. Basements, storms cellars or an interior room with no windows on the lowest floor of a structure offers the best protection.
Make sure all members of your family know where to go.
Store emergency supplies such as a first-aid kit, and flashlights with extra batteries nearby.
Put together a family communications plan. Know where everyone is or will be in the event they are away from home.
During a Tornado Warning…
Immediately go to your Tornado Safe Room. If you are outside, seek shelter inside a sturdy building.
Mobile homes are NEVER safe during a tornado. If you are in a mobile home or a recreational vehicle, head for the nearest storm shelter.
If you cannot quickly walk to a shelter, you should immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt, and try to drive away from the threat to the nearest sturdy shelter.
After a Tornado…
If you are in an area that was damaged, be careful of debris that may include sharp or dangerous objects, and watch out for downed power lines and broken gas lines.
Use battery powered flashlights when examining buildings. DO NOT USE CANDLES, which can start a fire or cause an explosion.
If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone out of the building quickly. After everyone is safe, call the gas company or local fire department.
Use your telephone only for emergency calls, so rescue operation lines are not tied-up.
Text your family and friends to let them know you are okay.
If you were outside the area damaged by a tornado, stay off the phone so that emergency calls can get through.
Use text messages and/or social media to let your family and friends know you are okay.
Stay away from areas that are damaged, so you do not hamper rescue operations.
Return to areas that were damaged ONLY when law enforcement gives the all-clear.