The devastation across parts of the country this spring due to severe storms and tornadoes has been striking.
Towns in Oklahoma and other states have suffered severe damage. Lives have been lost.
It’s only a matter of time before Minnesota is hit by bad weather.
It’s imperative every household has a plan to ensure the safety of residents. What can you do?
First, keep your eyes and ears open. During any storm you should listen to local news or a weather radio to stay informed about watches and warnings.
Know your community’s warning system. Many communities, such as St. Joseph, have sirens that will alert residents when severe weather is threatening.
Pick a safe room in your home and instruct members of the family how to get there and when. This room is often in a basement, a storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor of the house without windows.
Stock that safe room with the supplies you may need to ride out a storm. An emergency medical kit is a must. Bottled water and flashlights should be at the ready. And shoes and rain gear could be needed as well.
Practice periodic tornado drills. This may seem like a minor thing, but once a storm threatens, there may not be a lot of time to prepare. Any practice before will hasten a path to safety.
Consider reinforcing that safe room. Storms this spring have shown even people who have sought shelter were in danger from the strongest tornadoes. The stronger the safe room, the better your chances for survival. Plans for such precautions can be found at the website www.fema.gov.
You can also prepare the outside of your house from high winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees, which are more likely to become projectiles that could cause damage.
Move and secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind.
Watch for tornado danger signs such as dark, often greenish clouds, (wall clouds which are an isolated lowering of the base of a thunderstorm) and funnel clouds (rotating extensions of the base clouds).
And most importantly, talk to all members of the family about the possibility of severe storms. It’s better to be prepared and not need the training than the other way around.