Tornado Warning Signs You Need to Know

How to Use Off-Season as a Prime Time to Prep for Tornado Season

Off-Season Tornado PreparationJust because tornado season is winding down, doesn’t mean you should forget about severe storms hitting. During the off-season, there are plenty of things you can do in order to prep for next season. Below are our top tips for how to use the off-season as a prime time to prep for tornado season. 

  • Find out where the nearest shelters are (make sure your kids also know these locations).
  • Have up-to-date homeowner’s insurance.
  • Purchase an emergency radio (preferably a hand-crank).
  • Prep your bug-out bag and have it ready to go.
  • If your kids have friends or family they spend a lot of time with, find out what those families have planned in case of a tornado.
  • Get an extra cell phone charger. During tornado season, always have your phone charged, and keep an extra charger in your bug-out bag.
  • Check the FEMA website for helpful information regarding tornado preparedness.
  • Have flashlights, oil lamps and other sources of light. Also, extra batteries are a must!
  • Talk to your neighbors! Find out how they have weathered past tornado seasons.
  • Make a family plan. Have practice drills so everyone knows what to do and where to go. It is also best to have an occasional drill in the middle of the night.
  • Have at least 72 hours’ worth of food and water stored in a cellar, interior closet, or other safe place.    
  • Know how to safely shut off your electric service, gas line and water.
  • Keep cash at the ready.
  • Keep a small refrigerator or freezer in the basement.
  • Know how to be as safe as possible wherever you are. You may be visiting friends, out shopping, or at the park when a tornado hits.
  • Some TV stations offer free weather warnings via text messages. Check the websites of your local TV and radio stations to see if they offer this service. You can also check out these apps for survival and emergency situations.
  • Last, and certainly not least, the number one thing you can do to prep is to purchase a storm shelter!       

We hope this article gave you helpful ideas that you may not have thought about before. Take the off-season months and get prepared!

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Why You Should Always Avoid Underpasses During Tornadoes

Why Not to Seek Shelter Under Overpasses During Tornados in OklahomaMany people mistakenly think that a highway overpass provides a safe haven from a tornado. The reality is that an overpass may be one of the worst places to seek shelter from a tornado. Using an overpass for your shelter can put you at a much greater risk of being killed or seriously injured by a tornado.

Tornado wind speeds can sometimes exceed 200 mph. These destructive winds produce airborne debris that are blown into and channeled under the overpass where people might be seeking shelter. Varying debris, including dirt, sand and rocks that are moving at incredible speeds can easily penetrate clothing and skin, causing serious injuries or even death. 

Let’s take a look at the facts:

  • If an overpass is directly in the path of a tornado, the wind could change direction by nearly 180 degrees as the vortex passes.
  • By climbing up higher to get under the overpass, you will be exposed to higher wind speeds and more flying debris.
  • Flying debris become dangerous missiles in the tornado airflow.
  • Most overpasses don’t have girders or support beams for handholds.
  • The narrow passage underneath an overpass could cause an increase in the wind speed under the bridge.

Where You Should Shelter Instead

If you are on the road, try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If that is not an option, pull over and park. You now have two choices:

  1. Stay in your car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, covering your head with your hands and a blanket if possible.
  2. If you can get lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.

Your choice should be driven by your specific circumstances.

The bottom line is: OVERPASSES DO NOT MAKE SAFE SHELTER AREAS! Check out the video below to see what happens when you shelter under an overpass:

Also, take a look at our related articles:

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Effective Tornado Safety Tips for Schools

Tornado Safety in SchoolsThe most important part of ensuring your school is safe from severe storms is to develop an action plan with frequent drills throughout the year. It is important to remember that one size does not fit all when it comes to a tornado safety plan. School buildings should be inspected and shelter areas identified by a registered engineer. Once these shelter areas are designated, then a plan should be tailored around being able to move people to those areas quickly.

Basements offer the best protection, but for schools without basements interior rooms or hallways away from windows and glass are the next best things. Flying debris is the biggest tornado hazard and causes the most injuries! That's why it is important to put as many interior walls as possible between you and a tornado.

Don’t Forget Portable Classrooms

These buildings are often constructed like mobile homes and can be just as dangerous during severe storms. Your tornado safety plan must include getting students out of portable classrooms quickly and into a safe area within the main building. If possible students should be evacuated from portable classrooms before the severe weather begins or when a tornado watch is issued, not a tornado warning. That is why it is important for all schools to have a NOAA Weather Radio with battery backup. Having someone monitoring this radio can give you a head start if severe weather is approaching!

Avoid Gyms & Auditoriums

Large open areas like gymnasiums, auditoriums, and lunchrooms can be very dangerous and should not be used as shelter areas. These types of rooms have structural weaknesses and lack of roof support, making them prone to collapsing during severe wind and weather.

Have Alternative Warning Signals

If the school’s tornado alarm relies on electricity, have an alternative method to notify faculty and students of the warning in case of a power failure. A large bull horn or whistle are considered good alternatives. Make sure all faculty and students are aware of the alternative warning signals.

Make Provisions for Disabled Students

Students with physical disabilities can take longer to move to shelter areas. Moving these students when a watch is issued will insure getting them into safety shelter areas before the storm hits.

Make Sure Students Know the Protection Position

Crouch low on your knees, head down and cover the back of your head and neck with your arms. Crawling under a desk or table in this position can offer you more protection as well.

Keep Students After Hours

If severe weather is approaching keep students after until the severe weather passes. Students are safer inside the school than in a car or bus.

Having several tornado drills throughout the year will insure the smoothest transfer of students to shelter areas. Seconds count during severe weather and the quicker you can get them to the designated safety areas the less chance for injuries or fatalities!

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