On the heels of the devastating tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma Monday...I thought I'd take the opportunity to walk everyone through what to do when severe weather threatens.
Step One: pay attention!
Here at WNWO, as with most all TV and radio outlets, we'll likely be giving you a heads up towards the possibility of severe weather a day or two in advance. Use that as an excuse to watch a little more TV than normal. Raise your "weather alertness" a notch. Be ready in case a watch is issued.
Once that watch comes out...make sure you have the ability to get any and all warnings. Have several in fact.
NOAA Weather Radio, TV, radio, smart apps on your phone. Best to have two or more ways to provide redundancy. Electricity fails, networks fail...infrastructure can get damaged or destroyed. Multiple options...is the best option.
Step Two: have a plan, practice that plan
At school and even at work, we have fire drills and tornado drills. But have you done both at your home?
Developing a tornado plan on the fly could cost you your life. Having one in place and practiced could save it.
Know where your best shelter is...at home, at work, and at school.
As always, a basement or underground storm shelter is always best. But if you live in a stick-built home without a basement, then a central room on the lowest floor is going to be your best option.
The idea is to get as many walls between you and the outside as possible to protect against flying debris.
Many seek shelters in bathtubs...which is a good idea IF that bathroom is indeed in the center of your home. If your bathroom is on an outside wall, then skip that and find the better option closer to the middle of the home.
If you live in a manufactured home...no matter if it's on a frame, or is a modular that was pre-constructed...you are going to want to seek an alternate shelter. Most of these manufactured homes are not as thick and strong as stick-built ones. And few are anchored at the sill to a below ground foundation.
At work...check with your boss to see if a Tornado Shelter area has been pre-determined. If not, urge them to seek help in finding and establishing one.
Step Three: Go to your shelter...stay there
So far, we hope, you've been paying attention to the forecast, have developed and practiced a plan...and are ready to pull the trigger if a warning is issued.
When that warning finally does come down, don't hesitate. Move immediately to your shelter and stay there until you can confirm the threat has passed.
As we saw with the tornado in Moore, storms can wrap up quickly. From touchdown to where it was doing the worst of the damage was literally 2 to 3 minutes.
Don't run outside to look...don't wait for double and triple confirmation. Just go!
And to that end...DO NOT rely on sirens as a primary warning source. They are meant ONLY for people that are out of doors. And, they can and do fail.
Step Four: use extreme caution
After the storm, people are still injured by secondary factors. Sharp, jagged debris, gas leaks, downed power lines. All can cause injuries just as bad, and in some cases worse, than tornados.
As part of your "drills" make up a go-kit that you can easily grab and put in your place of shelter. Better yet, keep it there or put it there well before any warnings are issued.
Make sure you are safe and sound, and your family is accounted for, before you set you to help others. Notify people of your status, where you are...and where you'll be going. That way resources aren't wasted look for people that are otherwise okay, but have just left to seek other shelter or to help.
Above all else, be responsible for your own well being. If you wait for me or someone on our weather team to tell you exactly where to go and what to do when a tornado is bearing down on you, then you have not done your due diligence.
Be the Boy Scout...Be Prepared!
I'm happy to hold up my end of the bargain by, hopefully, forecasting a severe event well in advance. And once that warning is issued, we'll track the storm and tell you how it's moving...where it's going.
But sorry...I can't, and won't, hold your hand and walk you to your best shelter.
That's your job...and if you don't take it seriously, it may, someday, cost you your life.
Have any questions about best shelters? How to get notifications for severe weather? Other tornado related questions?
Fire away! I'd be glad to help.