5th SEASON: What to do when a tornado becomes imminent
5th Season: Day 3
LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Tornadoes continue to impact locations across the country every year, bringing strong winds and destruction in their paths.
Falling and flying debris causes most deaths and injuries during a tornado event.
It’s important to understand what procedures to follow no matter what circumstance someone might be in.
Oklahoma’s geographical location makes it a hotspot for severe weather year-round.
Being prepared and having a place to seek shelter at any time could save someone’s life.
“The only way to be absolutely safe in a tornado is to be in a safe room, an underground shelter,” Warning Coordination Meteorologist Rick Smith said. “Those are going to provide almost complete protection in almost every situation.”
Different housing structures have various ways to seek shelter. Homeowners need to know the place place to go when a tornado approaches before the event.
“It all depends on where you live,” Smith said.
Comanche County Emergency Management Director Clint Langford said going to low levels is the best place to ensure safety.
“You want to look for something that is underground, potentially like a basement if at all possible,” Langford said. If not always go to the lowest level in your structure toward the center of your home, the one that’s got the most sturdy walls. That’s going to provide you the most protection. Any protection is better than no protection. So if you live in a home that does not have a safe room or cellar, or you live in an apartment building, you always want to pre-identify what is your safe location before the storm.”
Keeping your children safe is a top priority for families. Discussing severe weather and tornado protocols with them beforehand can avoid any confusion and stress.
“I think it’s important for families to get together, talk to kids about what they are going to do during severe weather, if they need to take shelter from a tornado,” Smith said. “The more you think about it in advance, the more you talk about it in advance, the more you practice, the better the results are going to be.”
Having items children enjoy could also help make sheltering in place easier for children.
“Take their blankets, their teddy bears, their beanbags, something that makes them comfortable, their favorite books, and you can keep them entertained while you are in the shelter,” Langford said. “But the main thing is if the parents don’t stress, then the child won’t stress.”
While some buildings and homes might be more prone to destruction, being on the road is on of the more dangerous places to be when severe weather is expected.
“The best thing to do is just delay your trip,” Smith said. “The only way to be safe in your car in a tornado is to not be in your car in a tornado. Plan ahead.”
“Don’t drive into severe weather areas if you know the area’s gonna have a severe weather tornado warning,” Langford said. “Try to avoid that area before you even get there.”
People should check to make sure their house is stocked up on necessary supplies in the event of severe weather should it directly impact them and to have their property prepared if they know storms are approaching.
“If you’ve got stuff in your backyard, if you’ve got plants, toys, lawn chairs, any kind of items that can be tossed around in the wind,” Smith said. “It’s a good idea to store those somewhere else.”
Extra forms of communication are also useful in severe weather.
“Having your cellphone or extra batteries so you can call for help if needed,” Langford said. “And maybe a portable radio so you can hear weather reports and kinda keep in touch with what’s happening in your area.”
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