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Before, During and After: How To Prepare Your Home and Your Family For Tornadoes

Most of America faces the threat of tornadoes year round, whether it’s the turbulent weather patterns of spring and summer in Tornado Alley, or the deadly spree of fall and winter tornadoes in Dixie Alley during the second season. A tornado can turn your life upside down. The most violent and unpredictable weather must be met with preparedness and a comprehensive (yet simple) plan to keep your family safe.

Before

-Gather items for an easily accessible emergency kit. Include enough food and water, changes of clothes, and medical supplies (first aid kit, prescriptions, etc.) that will last 48-72 hours.

-Formulate a plan with your neighbors, especially if there are elderly or special needs people in your neighborhood.

-Establish your “Safe Place.” This will be in either a basement or interior room without windows. Keep a spare blanket to cover yourself with to avoid potential broken glass and debris. If you are in a mobile home, locate the nearest sturdy building or structure to take shelter in the event of severe weather.

-Program a S.A.M.E. NOAA weather radio to receive tornado watches and warnings for your county. S.A.M.E. radios receive alerts directly from the National Weather Service and can give you valuable seconds to seek shelter.

-Have a communications plan in place. Know that some severe storms can knock out cell coverage, potentially leaving you unable to reach your loved ones in a crisis. A set of two-way radios can be a reliable fail-safe in this case.

-Tornado sirens are not designed to wake you up at night. A deadly nocturnal tornado can catch even the most prepared person off-guard. Keep your NOAA weather alert radio in a place that you know will wake you up at night. Be Weather Aware and take note of the overnight forecast before going to bed during severe weather seasons.

During

-When your area is tornado warned, seek shelter immediately. Find the most interior room in your home, crouch as low as you can and cover your head with your hands.

-If you are in a pre-manufactured home or office, like a trailer or mobile home, leave immediately and seek shelter in a sturdy building nearby.

-If on the road, do NOT seek shelter under overpasses. Find the lowest point of the ground like a ditch. Flying debris is the cause of most tornado-related deaths. Shield yourself from the straight line winds.

After

-Listen to local government and emergency managers for instruction. The damage may be widespread.

-Check in with family and friends by texting or via social media. Use two-way radios if your cell coverage has been knocked out in your area.

-Be careful when venturing outside after emerging from shelter. Look out for downed power lines, broken gas lines and raw sewage.

-If you are trapped in your home and are afraid your voice can’t be heard, whistle or tap on pipes to alert first responders to your location.

-Do not return to your home until it has been deemed safe for you to go back in.

-Photograph all damage to your property, contact your insurance agent and file a claim. Be sure to temporarily repair anything that can cause further damage to your home (broken windows, roof damage) as insurance may not cover any damage that occurs after the storm has passed.

For a more detailed preparedness checklist, visit ready.gov