Tornado Safety

How to Prepare for Severe Storms

To prepare all residents for the potential of spring storms, Public Safety Communications Officer Patty DeMarco and the Oxford Police Department have several suggestions to keep you and your family as safe as possible when a tornado strikes.

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a strong thunderstorm cloud to the ground. The most violent tornadoes can reach wind speeds of 250 mph or more. In some extreme cases, damage paths can span more than one mile wide and 50 miles long.

On average, the U.S. sees about 1,000 tornadoes every year, more than any other country in the world. In 2004, more than 1,500 tornadoes touched down, killing 36 people across the country.

Experts at the American Red Cross proclaim the best time to prepare a tornado safety plan is before you need it. The Red Cross understands the importance of planning ahead and suggests home owners and renters do so by making a disaster kit.

The American Red Cross provides the follow tips to ensure that you or your family will be as ready as possible when a tornado strikes.

Prepare a Home Tornado Plan

Pick a place where your family can gather if a tornado is headed your way. It can be a basement or a center hallway, bathroom, or closet on the lowest floor. Keep this place uncluttered. If you are in a high-rise building, you may not have enough time to get to the lowest floor, so pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building.

Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit

Include a first aid kit and any essential medications along with items for infants, the elderly or disabled. You also need canned food, a can opener, and at least three gallons of water per person. Include protective clothing, bedding, or sleeping bags, a battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries, and written instructions on how to turn off electricity, gas, and water if authorities advise you to do so. (Remember, you’ll need a professional to turn natural gas service back on.)

Stay Tuned for Storm Warnings

Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information and know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning:

  • A tornado watch means a tornado is possible in your area.
  • A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted and may be headed for your area. Go to safety immediately.

Tornado watches and warnings are issued by county or parish.

When a Tornado Watch Is Issued…

Listen to local radio and TV stations for further updates and pay attention to changing weather conditions. You may see blowing debris or hear the sound of an approaching tornado. Many people say it sounds like a freight train.

When a Tornado Warning Is Issued…

If you are inside, go to the safe place you picked to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects. If you are outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area. If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head for safety.

After the Tornado Passes…

Watch out for fallen power lines and stay out of damaged areas; listen to the radio for information and instructions; use a flashlight to inspect your home for damage and do not use candles at any time.

Tornado Siren Malfunction

If a Tornado Siren malfunctions and does not function properly, public safety officials will attempt to alert citizens by using public address systems in their vehicles.