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Kansans are Urged to Prepare for April Tornadoes

Local Red Cross Volunteers helping in MS, ARK
By preparing together for tornadoes, we can make our families safer and our communities stronger.

As tornado season begins, the American Red Cross urges residents in Kansas to take steps now to stay safer when tornadoes threaten.

“By preparing together for tornadoes, we can make our families safer and our communities stronger,” said Michelle Jantz, Executive Director of the Midway Kansas Red Cross office. “We can help you and your family create a tornado preparedness plan now, before our community is threatened by severe weather.”

Trained Red Cross disaster response groups from across the state are on standby to travel to impacted areas to help those who have been impacted by storms; they will provide immediate basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter.

As with any disaster, preparation can be the difference between life or death. The Red Cross recommends that individuals and families prepare for tornadoes by:

  • Downloading the free Red Cross Tornado App to your mobile device. The Red Cross tornado app includes a high-pitched siren and warning alert that signals when a tornado warning has been issued, as well as an all-clear alert that lets users know when a tornado warning has expired or has been cancelled. The app also includes tips on how assemble an emergency kit for your family in the event of a power outage or evacuation, an “I’m Safe” button to let loved ones know you are okay, and a real-time map to help you find the location of Red Cross shelters should you need to leave your home. The app has a Spanish language toggle switch and can be downloaded by visiting redcross.org/apps.
  • Creating and practicing a home tornado plan. Pick a “safe room” or uncluttered area without windows where family members and pets could seek shelter on the lowest floor possible. The safest place to be is an underground shelter or basement. 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. Putting as many walls between you and the outside provides additional protection. Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes or other severe winds. Practice periodic tornado drills so that everyone knows what to do if a tornado is approaching.
  • Assembling an emergency preparedness kit. Pack a first aid kit and a seven-day supply of essential medications, foods that don’t require cooking or refrigeration and manual can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries, copies of important documents like your insurance policies, cell phone chargers, family and emergency contact information, maps of the area and other emergency items for the whole family.
  • Heeding storm warnings. Watch for tornado danger signs, including: dark, often greenish clouds (a phenomenon caused by hail), a wall cloud (an isolated lowering of the base of a thunderstorm), a cloud of debris, large hail, a funnel cloud (a visible rotating extension of the cloud base), or a roaring noise. Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information. A tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible in your area. When a tornado WARNING is issued, go to the safe room you picked to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects. If you are caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building.
  • Preparing for high winds. Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased and damaged limbs, then strategically removing branches so that wind can blow through. Install permanent shutters on your windows and add protection to the outside areas of sliding glass doors. Strengthen garage doors and unreinforced masonry. Move or secure lawn furniture, outdoor decorations or ornaments, trash cans, hanging plants and anything else that can be picked up by wind and become a projectile.
  • For more information on what to do before, during and after a tornado, please visit redcross.org/prepare/disaster/tornado.

    You can also follow the American Red Cross serving Kansas on Facebook at facebook.com/KansasRedCross, Twitter at @KansasRedCross, visit www.redcross.org/ks or call 1-800-REDCROSS. We urge you to share these Red Cross tornado preparedness tips with every member of your household, because the best protection is to be prepared ahead of time.

    About the American Red Cross:

    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.