Tornado Ready

As posted by American Red Cross Greater Arkansas Region:

http://www.arkansasredcross.org/index.asp?IDCapitulo=8T5VD1P333

For particular information in your state go to:  http://www.redcross.org/

Arkansas is no stranger to tornadoes. While the number of storms increases during the fall and spring change of seasons, tornadoes can occur any month of the year.  And, according to Dr. Walker Ashley, a meteorologist at Northern Illinois University, Arkansas lies in “fatality alley” due to the number of mobile homes and the number of tornadoes that occur at night increases the probability of injuries and deaths; another reminder of the importance of keeping a NOAA weather radio.

These violent storms are capable of completely destroying well-made structures, uprooting trees and hurling objects through the air like deadly missiles. This past spring, the state was stressed with an especially high and rapid number of tornadoes watches and warnings April 30 and May 1 with tornadoes damages homes in numerous counties with the communities of Scotland and East End taking the brunt of the storms. Three fatalities and numerous injuries were caused by the storm’s destruction.

Know the Difference

Tornado Watch
Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans, and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives!

Tornado Warning
A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Go immediately under ground to a basement, storm cellar or an interior room (closet, hallway or bathroom)
http://www.redcross.org/www-files/Documents/pdf/Preparedness/checklists/Tornado.pdf

What should I do to prepare for a tornado?

  • During any storm, listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed about watches and warnings.
  • Know your community’s warning system. Communities have different ways of warning residents about tornados, with many having sirens intended for outdoor warning purposes.
  • Pick a safe room in your home where household members and pets may gather during a tornado. This should be a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
  • Practice periodic tornado drills so that everyone knows what to do if a tornado is approaching.
  • Consider having your safe room reinforced. Plans for reinforcing an interior room to provide better protection can be found on the FEMA Web site at http://www.fema.gov/plan/prevent/rms/rmsp453.shtm.
  • Prepare for high winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees.
  • Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.
  • Watch for tornado danger signs:
    • Dark, often greenish clouds-a phenomenon caused by hail
    • Wall cloud-an isolated lowering of the base of a thunderstorm
    • Cloud of debris
    • Large hail
    • Funnel cloud-a visible rotating extension of the cloud base
    • Roaring noise

What should I do if a tornado is threatening?

  • The safest place to be is an underground shelter, basement or safe room.
  • If no underground shelter or safe room is available, a small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is the safest alternative.
    • Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes or other severe winds.
    • Do not seek shelter in a hallway or bathroom of a mobile home.
  • If you have access to a sturdy shelter or a vehicle, abandon your mobile home immediately.
  • Go to the nearest sturdy building or shelter immediately, using your seat belt if driving.
  • Do not wait until you see the tornado.
  • If you are caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building. If you cannot quickly walk to a shelter:
    • Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
    • If flying debris occurs while you are driving, pull over and park. Now you have the following options as a last resort:
      • Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible.
      • If you can safely get noticeably 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.

What do I do after a tornado?

  • Continue listening to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions.
  • If you are away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
  • Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and sturdy shoes when examining your walls, doors, staircases and windows for damage.
  • Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and report them to the utility company immediately.
  • Stay out of damaged buildings.
  • Use battery powered flashlights when examining buildings—do NOT use candles.
  • If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone out of the building quickly and call the gas company or fire department.
  • Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance claims.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  • Keep all of your animals under your direct control.
  • Clean up spilled medications, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids that could become a fire hazard.
  • Check for injuries. If you are trained, provide first aid to persons in need until emergency responders arrive.

Recovery

As you rebuild

  • Strengthen existing garage doors to improve the wind resistance, particularly double-wide garage doors.
  • If your home has been significantly damaged and will require rebuilding parts or all of it, consult with your contractor about having a tornado safe room built during the process. A tornado safe room can save lives. Plans for reinforcing an interior room to provide better protection can be found on the FEMA Web site at http://www.fema.gov/plan/prevent/rms/rmsp453.shtm.
  • Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio to warn you of future severe storms and tornadoes.

Ask a professional to

  • Look at common connections in wood frame buildings and add anchors, clips and straps that will provide more strength to your home.
  • Reinforce masonry walls that provide structural support to your home.
  • Secure your chimney. Masonry chimneys that extend more than six feet above the roof or have a width of 40 inches or more should have continuous vertical reinforcing steel placed in the corners to provide greater resistance to wind loads.
  • Permanently connect your manufactured home to its foundation to decrease the potential for damage from high winds.
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