A powerful storm is moving across the country after bringing a damaging tornado to Port Orchard, Washington. Weather experts report the same storm will bring severe weather to the East Coast later this week with the possibility of more tornadoes, especially from Florida to the Carolinas.
While spring is when we mostly think about tornadoes, the American Red Cross wants to remind people of steps they can take to be safer if a tornado threatens their neighborhood; any time of the year.
- Identify a safe place in your home where household members and pets will gather during a tornado: a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
- In a high-rise building, pick a hallway in the center of the building. You may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor.
- In a mobile home, choose a safe place in a nearby sturdy building. If your mobile home park has a designated shelter, make it your safe place. No mobile home, however it is configured, is safe in a tornado.
- Listen to local radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates. People should keep informed about weather conditions and listen to the advice of local officials.
- Check your emergency kit and replenish any items missing or in short supply. Keep it nearby.
If you are outdoors when a tornado nears:
- Seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building.
- If you cannot quickly walk to a shelter, immediately get into a vehicle and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. Remember to buckle your seat belt.
- Stay away from bridge/highway overpasses.
- If strong winds and flying debris occurs while driving, pull over and park, keeping your seat belt on and engine running. Put your head down below the windows, covering your head with your hands and a blanket
KNOW THE SIGNS Some signs of a tornado include dark, often greenish clouds, a wall of clouds or cloud of debris, large hail, a funnel cloud or roaring noise. The Red Cross reminds everyone that a tornado watch means tornadoes are possible in the area. People should be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or someone suspects a tornado is approaching. A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted or indicated on radar. People should immediately go underground to a basement, storm cellar or interior room of the house.
THREE EASY STEPS
There are 3 easy steps people can take to be “Red Cross Ready” for an emergency:
1. Build an emergency kit with a gallon of water per person, per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, medications, supplies for an infant if applicable, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area and emergency contact information. Many of these items are available through the Red Cross Store at redcrossstore.org.
2. Talk with household members and create an evacuation plan. Practicing the plan minimizes confusion and fear during the event.
3. Be informed. Learn about the community’s emergency response plan. Plan routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs as required and make plans for pets.
Download the free Red Cross Emergency App to receive emergency alerts and information about what to do in case of severe weather, as well as locations of open Red Cross shelters. Users can find it in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross, texting GETEMERGENCY to 90999 for a link to download the app or going to redcross.org/apps.
More information on what to do before, during and after a tornado is available on this web site.