Oklahoma, What's Your Red Cross Game Plan?

Storm damage
Having a game plan that is specific to tornadoes will help families be ready to mount a strong defense

During National Preparedness Month the American Red Cross wants to know what your game plan will be for any disaster, and this week will focus on tornadoes. Storm season is finally over for Oklahoma, and September is the perfect offseason to prepare for next year. Having a game plan that is specific to tornadoes will help families be ready to mount a strong defense.

Knowledge is Power

It is important to understand the difference between a tornado watch and a warning. Make sure all family members, including children, know the differences and what to do during each. A tornado watch means that tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued, and take this time to review supplies and safe rooms. A tornado warning means that a tornado has been sighted, either visually or by radar. Immediately go underground to a basement, storm shelter, or an interior, windowless room of the house such as a closet, hallway, or bathroom. Information on new safe room construction can be found on the FEMA website.

Have the safe room prepped ahead of time by stocking it now with an emergency kit. If there isn’t room to store the entire kit there year-round, put tornado specific items within reach such as a weather radio, flashlights with extra batteries, and blankets. Begin practicing periodic tornado drills so that everyone knows what to do if a tornado is approaching. Include information for children on what to do if they are at school or alone at home. Prepare for future high winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from nearby trees now.

During storm season, if bad weather is on the way and there is time to prepare, move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile. If possible, consider putting on long pants, a long sleeved shirt, and sturdy shoes. Gather other necessary items like medication and a mattress or pillows and put them in or next to the safe room. During a storm, be sure to listen to local news on a TV or weather radio to stay informed about any weather changes, and be ready to act quickly. Watch for tornado danger signs, including:

  • Dark, often greenish clouds
  • A wall or funnel cloud
  • Large hail
  • A roaring noise
  • Find more information on what to do during a tornado on the Red Cross website. Make sure all family members are knowledgeable and, when the time comes, can react appropriately based on their individual circumstances.

    Download the Tornado App

    Anyone with an iPhone or Android smartphone can download the free Red Cross Tornado App. The app offers real time alerts and Red Cross shelter locations, as well as instant access to information on what to do before, during and after a tornado. The app features personalized local information, a toolkit with a flashlight, and an “I’m Safe” feature to help people connect with loved ones.

    The app has a number of features that provide real-time, audible alerts and information so people can take action before a tornado strikes, even if they aren’t paying attention to the weather. A high-pitched siren and tornado warning message will sound when a NOAA tornado warning is issued in the area, even if the app is closed. An all clear alert lets users know when a tornado warning has expired or been cancelled. The app continues to monitor the weather even when users are asleep or the app is not in use. Consider downloading the app to monitor current locations or other areas where friends and family live.

    Being prepared now can be a real game changer. It can save time and even lives in the future. The offseason is the time for sports teams to practice their winning strategies, so make sure to practice yours.