It's hard to believe, after a long, BRUTAL winter, that severe weather season is here! Now's the time to begin making preparations to stay safe this spring. . .no matter where you are. Here are some tips--many of them common sense--to keep in mind as this dangerous time of year unfolds:
*If you don't have a weather radio, now's the time to get one, and have it programmed. When set correctly your weather radio will alert you to approaching severe weather, 24/7. That's a huge advantage if you happen to be asleep!
*When a Tornado or Severe Thunderstorm Watch has been issued for your area, keep abreast of developing weather conditions, whether it be via TV, a radio, or online. If a line of severe storms is heading your way, stay alert!
*When a Tornado Warning has been issued, and you're at home, seek shelter underground, either in a storm cellar or basement. If this is not possible, go to the lowest level of your home and take shelter in an interior room, such as a bathroom or interior closet. Cover yourself with pillows or other padding--anything to help protect you from flying debris. When selecting an interior room for shelter, go by this rule of thumb: Put as many walls between yourself and the outside that you can!
*If you're in a vehicle do not attempt to outrun the storm! Seek shelter in the nearest building. If you're out in the open, and the funnel is far enough away to avoid it, drive away from the storm at right angles. But again. . .only if the funnel is far away! Otherwise, get out of your car and take shelter in the open; pick a low-lying area, lie flat and cover your head with your arms. Make sure you are far away from your vehicle or any other objects that can become flying debris. Do NOT seek shelter under bridges or overpasses!
*If you're in a public building, such as a store, a mall, or government building, take shelter in an interior room or hallway--away from any windows. A small interior office or bathroom is a shelter to keep in mind. Kneel next to a wall and cover your head with your arms.
*If you're in a mobile home, GET OUT! Go to the designated shelter of the mobile home park; if this is not possible, go to the nearest building. If there's no time to get to a building, take cover in the open, as far away from potential flying debris as you can. Never attempt to ride out a tornado inside a mobile home!
*In advance, plan a reunion place, where after the storm everyone in your family can gather and be accounted for. If there's been a tornado, chances are very good there will be no power. Make sure you have a battery-operated radio in good working order, and plenty of bottled water and non-perishable food.
*It's human nature; after a storm we seek to assist those who have been trapped by debris or injured. However, do not enter a structure that looks like it's in danger of collapse! There will also be downed power lines. Stay away from them! Carefully follow any instructions issued by law enforcement personnel and/or civil authorities.
*Finally, stay calm. Injuries and accidents occur when we panic!
And let's hope none of us have to employ any of these tips this storm season!