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Red Cross Urges Preparedness as Tornado Season Starts, Shares Safety Tips

The American Red Cross is helping people across the Midwest after tornadoes slammed into parts of Kansas, Missouri and Illinois, injuring dozens of people, destroying buildings and leaving thousands without power.

Red Cross workers have opened shelters and are providing meals and support including replacement clothing for displaced residents. Additional workers are fanning out in affected neighborhoods to begin assessing the extent of the tornado damage.

To find an open Red Cross shelter, visit or call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767). iPhone users can download a free Red Cross shelter view app from the app store.

In the Midwest tornado season is March-May. Protect your family by following these safety tips. For a complete checklist of ways to prepare, visit:

It’s a good idea to secure outside items such as lawn furniture or trash cans, which could be picked up by the wind and injure someone.

If a tornado watch is issued, it means tornadoes are possible and people should be ready to act quickly. If a tornado warning is issued, it means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by radar and people should go underground immediately to a basement or storm cellar or to an interior room such as a bathroom or closet.

Use flashlights, not candles, when examining buildings for damage. If someone smells gas or hears a hissing noise, they should open a window and get everyone out of the building immediately and call the gas company or fire department.

Check for injuries. If someone is trained, they should provide first aid until emergency responders arrive.

Listen to local news or NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions.

About the American Red Cross:

You can help people affected by disasters like the Midwest tornadoes and storms, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. To make a donation, people can visit or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. Contributions may also be sent to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at