With another severe weather season upon us, it's time to remember what you need to keep you and your family safe from nature's most violent storms. Living in the Plains, we are in a region prone to large and destructive severe weather events. It is vital that everyone in your family knows how to prepare for and react to this potentially dangerous weather.
Make a Plan
The best time to get ready for severe weather would be on calm, quiet days. This is when you and your family need to discuss what to do in case severe thunderstorms or tornadoes strike. At home, the ideal place of safety is in a basement or underground shelter. If no basement is available, go to an interior room or closet, trying to put as many walls between you and the storm as possible. It is imperative every member of your family knows this plan!
These same plans should be in place at schools and places of business, and practiced at least once a year. Most schools will hold tornado drills during the spring so students and staff can ensure safety. This is why, even though it may be difficult, if severe weather is in progress at the end of a school day, parents should not try to rush to school and bring a child home. The child and parent are much safer inside a sturdy building instead of potentially getting caught in a car in the middle of a devastating storm.
A car is one of the worst places to be during severe weather, especially if there is a tornado. Never try to outrun a tornado! Make your best attempt to find a sturdy building, and follow the home safety guidelines. Freeway overpasses can accelerate thunderstorm or tornado wind speeds, and should never be used as shelter! As a last resort in a tornado, get out of your vehicle and lie face-down in a low ditch or depression, covering your head with your hands and arms.
Watch the Weather
Monitoring the forecast daily helps to keep you knowledgeable of even the slightest potential for strong thunderstorms and when safety plans could be needed. This information is easily accessed through television and internet sources, but remember that trusted, local meteorologists are the best for reliable weather information. You can even follow local TV forecasters and local National Weather Service offices on social media, and essential forecast details will be visible in your news feed.
Keep a Weather Radio Handy
Those sources are also great for receiving timely severe weather watches and warnings. Keep a local TV or radio station on in the background at home or work if strong storms are in the forecast. However, every house and business should have a programmed NOAA Weather Radio. These devices broadcast watches and warnings as soon as they are issued by the National Weather Service. A battery powered radio will continue to provide potentially life-saving information, even if a storm knocks out power to your home. These will also alert you of severe weather that could develop while you sleep, and they will certainly wake you up!
Having everything in place before severe weather develops will help your family calmly react to active severe weather and increases your ability to stay safe.