As summer approaches after a relentless winter, it’s time for plenty of outdoor fun, but it’s also time to learn about the horrific damage tornadoes can do to property and lives.
In a word, “Prepare!” Do not wait.
In the past couple of months, we have all seen or heard reports of catastrophic death and destruction in so many other states, as far north as Iowa. Those tragic scenes are timely warnings that such horrific tornadoes can happen right here in Minnesota.
Here are some violent-storm tips that should be shared among family, friends, neighbors. The first thing to know is that if you hear or read the words “tornado watch,” that means weather conditions could spawn a tornado. Prepare safety plans as soon as you hear those words and stay tuned. Make sure you have some food and bottled water in the basement or other shelter, charge your cell phone. If it’s after dark or late at night, stay awake to keep tabs on how the storm is developing. If you cannot stay awake, sleep in the basement or other shelter. Put pets in pet carriers so you can have them with you in the shelter.
A “tornado warning” means one has been spotted in the area. In most cities and even some rural areas an emergency siren can be heard wailing. Do not stay outside; take cover immediately. The best place is in a basement next to a wall and a place that is not under a room that contains heavy kitchen appliances or furniture. If there is no basement, all should go to an inner room in the house without windows, such as a bathroom, storage room or hallway. Cover your head and if possible cover yourselves with blankets or a mattress.
Mobile homes are notoriously unsafe in tornado weather or even straight-line winds. Just as unsafe are gymnasiums or other large, open structures that can collapse from above. Mobile-home residents should make sure, as soon as they become aware of a tornado watch to get ready, including putting pets in pet carriers, to go to a tornado shelter within the mobile-home park. If such a shelter does not exist, call local law-enforcement to find out where the nearest public shelter is to where you live. Find that out before a tornado is even a possibility and tell all family members and neighbors where that shelter is.
If it can be avoided, do not drive, even during a tornado watch if possible – unless you absolutely must drive to a shelter near your home. Vehicles (and people inside them) are extremely vulnerable in a tornado and can even be flung and tumbled far up into the air. As soon as you become aware of a tornado watch, make sure all family members stay at home or very close to home.
With the entire family gathered, storm-preparedness should be discussed together every spring to make sure each person will know exactly what to do, where to go.
For more information detailing the tips above, go to a website called ready.gov, study that information and share it with everyone you know – family, neighbors, friends, co-workers.