Spring Forward With Your Plans for Tornado Season

American Red Cross volunteer Sara Clyess speaks to Alysan Watson, 9, in a heavily devastated area of Tuscaloosa, AL.

Spring is here and it is time to move forward with your plans to prepare for severe weather.  Springtime brings beautiful flowers and warmer temps, but Mother Nature also has tornadoes up her sleeve, which have already left thousands devastated across the county this spring.  The Red Cross is urging the public to assemble disaster supply kits and make plans now to be ready when the time comes. 

Know the Difference:

In times of inclement weather, be sure to listen for storm watches and warnings and act accordingly. Knowing the difference between watches and warnings and following can help save lives.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Severe Thunderstorms are possible in and near the watch area. Stay informed and be ready to act if a severe thunderstorm warning is issued.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Sever weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property.

Ways You Can Prepare:

The following are procedures you should follow in order to prepare your family for tornadoes:

  • Pick a safe place in your home where family members could gather during a tornado, windstorm or major hail storm. The safest place to be is underground, or as low to the ground as possible, and away from all windows. If you do not have basements, an interior hallway or room on the lowest floor is the best choice. Putting as many walls between you and the outside will provide additional protection. Also make sure there are no windows or glass doors in your safe place and keep this place uncluttered.
  • Get out of your mobile home and choose a safe place in a nearby sturdy building. Mobile homes are much more vulnerable to strong winds than site-built structures. If your mobile home park has a designated shelter, make it your family’s safe place.
  • If you are in a vehicle, get out immediately. Find a sturdy nearby structure and take shelter. If there is no building nearby, go to a low-lying area until the storm passes. Taking cover under bridges is not recommended.
  • If you are in a high-rise building, pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building. You may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor. Center hallways are often structurally the most reinforced part of a building.
  • Check with your work and your children’s schools and day care centers to learn tornado emergency plans. Every building has different safe places. It is important to know where they are and how to get there in an emergency.
  • Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit. This kit should be kept near your safe room, whether at home, work or school, and should contain supplies such as bottled water, flashlights with extra batteries, first aid supplies, an AM/FM or NOAA Weather radio and additional important items.
  • Conduct periodic tornado drills so everyone remembers what to do when a tornado is approaching. Practice having everyone in the family go to your designated area in response to a tornado threat. Practicing your plan makes the appropriate response more of a reaction, requiring less thinking time during an actual emergency situation.
  • Discuss tornadoes with your family. Everyone should know what to do in case all family members are not together. Discussing disaster ahead of time helps reduce fear and lets everyone know how to respond during a tornado.
  • Take an online “Be Red Cross Ready” course. This 15-minute interactive course will ensure that you’ve got everything you need on-hand before the storm hits. To find the course, go to www.redcross.org/beredcrossready.
  • Log on to www.redcross.org to download free tips on getting prepared for severe weather.
  • Take an online “Be Red Cross Ready” course. This 15-minute interactive course will ensure that you’ve got everything you need on-hand before the storm hits. To find the course, go to www.redcross.org/beredcrossready.

In the event that severe weather does impact the Columbia Region area, the American Red Cross, Columbia Region will be ready to respond. Real-time updates for any responses can be found by following @RedCrossSC on Twitter or by following our blog at www.crredcross.wordpress.com.

Additional Resources:

Tornado Tip Sheet

Spring Storm photos on Flickr  

American Red Cross Disaster Newsroom  

Shop our Preparedness Store

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