Here in Iowa, we live in one of the most severe weather-prone areas on earth.
Tornadoes, thunderstorms, flash floods… they happen every year in our part of the state. Just last year, tornadoes touched down in the Lake Delhi and Worthington areas in July and flash flooding hit areas of Delaware County in September. But are you as prepared as you should be when warnings are issued?
This is Severe Weather Awareness Week. And National Weather Service meteorologist Donna Dubberke says it’s important to take some time now to make sure you’re prepared when bad weather hits.
Here are some tips from the National Weather Service on how to prepare for severe weather:
- Be Weather-Ready: Check the forecast regularly to see if you’re at risk for tornadoes. Listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed about tornado watches and warnings. Check the Weather-Ready Nation for tips.
- Sign Up for Notifications: Know how your community sends warnings. Some communities have outdoor sirens. Others depend on media and smart phones to alert residents of severe storms capable of producing tornadoes.
- Create a Communications Plan: Have a family plan that includes an emergency meeting place and related information. Pick a safe room in your home, such as a basement, storm cellar, or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows. Check more ideas for your family plan at: https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan
- Practice Your Plan: Conduct a family severe thunderstorm drill regularly so everyone knows what to do if a tornado is approaching. Make sure all members of your family know to go there when tornado warnings are issued. Don’t forget pets if time allows.
- Prepare Your Home: Consider having your safe room reinforced. You can find plans for reinforcing an interior room to provide better protection on the Federal Emergency Management Agency website.
- Help Your Neighbor: Encourage your loved ones to prepare for the possibility of tornadoes. Take CPR training so you can help if someone is hurt.
It’s important to know the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning. Check out the differences below!
What to do during a Tornado Warning:
- At Your House: If you are in a tornado warning, go to your basement, safe room, or an interior room away from windows. Don’t forget pets if time allows.
- At Your Workplace or School: Follow your tornado drill and proceed to your tornado shelter location quickly and calmly. Stay away from windows and do not go to large open rooms such as cafeterias, gymnasiums, or auditoriums.
- Outside: Seek shelter inside a sturdy building immediately if a tornado is approaching. Sheds and storage facilities are not safe.
- In a vehicle: Being in a vehicle during a tornado is not safe. The best course of action is to drive to the closest shelter. If you are unable to make it to a safe shelter, either get down in your car and cover your head, or abandon your car and seek shelter in a low lying area such as a ditch or ravine.
What to do after a tornado or severe thunderstorm moves through:
- After the threat for tornadoes has ended, check to see if your property has been damaged.
- When walking through storm damage, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and sturdy shoes.
- Contact local authorities if you see power lines down.
- Stay out of damaged buildings.
- Be aware of insurance scammers if your property has been damaged.
- Call your family and friends to let them know you’re okay so they can help spread the word. Text messages or social media are more reliable than phone calls.
A statewide tornado drill was held Wednesday morning – that’s why you may have heard the sirens going off in your community.
Of course, when severe weather does strike, you can always count on KMCH for up-to-date information and live weather coverage. If you’re not near a radio during a storm, you can listen live on kmch.com. Or you can download our KMCH mobile app to your cell phone so that you can listen to our live weather coverage while you’re taking shelter during the storm.
(archived photo of tornado taken near Worthington in July 2016)