Tornado preparedness necessary for this time of year

By: Melissa Tune Email
By: Melissa Tune Email

News 12 at 11 o'clock, March 29, 2010

EDGEFIELD, S.C. --- It is often better to be safe than sorry and now that tornado season is here it is time for many of us to get prepared for the worst just in case.

Sunday night's storms caught many people off guard and unprepared. The two confirmed tornadoes in Edgefield left lots of people cleaning up the damage on Monday. While no one died, tornadoes are not rare in the area so it is a good idea to get prepared.

While nothing could have been done to stop the damage at several homes in Edgefield, it is a warning that the destruction could happen to anyone in our area. That is why the American Red Cross of Augusta wants to help you get ready.

"Being prepared is very easy," said Sarah Townsend with the America Red Cross. Townsend usually deals with the destruction and aftermath of the storm and unfortunately the many people who didn't prepare for a tornado. She suggests that you take inventory and pack things away that you may need later.

"Things that you don't think about that are easy to pack away," said Townsend. "Things like a first aid kit filled with supplies,flashlights, batteries and emergency nonperishable items like food and water. Townsend also says there is something else to keep in mind.

"The weather reports on the news are so important," added Townsend. "People need to be alert. When there comes down to a warning that's when you need to get your preparedness kit and take shelter and do exactly what the folks on the television say do."

She's talking about folks - like News 12's Chief Meteorologist Shane Butler.

"When we feel the need to go on, we're going to break into programming," explained Butler.

Butler says the intent is to get information out that could save someone's life.

"If somebody's life is at stake and there's a possible tornado then that outweighs any program on our air," says Butler. "There are going to be people that are so far removed from this storms they're going to say why are you breaking into programming that doesn't affect me?"

It is during those times that many people may not understand why weather warnings are given and the times they are given but it all goes back to being prepared.

"It may not affect your house but your neighbors right up the road in the next county or two may be getting pounded and they need that information," said Butler.

Sarah Townsend agrees.

"We rely on the radars and the our weather personnel to tell us and to be aware or what is going on," said Townsend.

Butler says while the choice to interrupt programming may not be a popular choice, there is valid reasoning behind it. It is his responsibility to inform viewers if someone's life is in danger.

"That is why our tv station is here. We provide entertainment, we provide sports but we also provide lifesaving weather information. Information that just might save your life down the road."

AMERICAN RED CROSS OF AUGUSTA
http://www.arcaug.org/common/content.asp?PAGE=305

TORNADO PREPAREDNESS:
http://www.arcaug.org/common/content.asp?PAGE=310
Tornadoes

Are You Ready for a Tornado?

The Red Cross would like to stress that tornadoes can strike anywhere in the United States and everyone should know what to do to be prepared for a tornado. Red Cross information pamphlets on tornado safety, family disaster planning, and other natural disasters, such as hurricanes and floods, are available to the public for free.

Prepare a Home Tornado Plan:

Pick a place where family members could gather if a tornado is headed your way. It could be your basement or, if there is no basement, a center hallway, bathroom, or closet on the lowest floor. Conduct periodic tornado drills, so everyone remembers what to do when a tornado is approaching. If you are in a high-rise building, you may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor. Pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building.

Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit Containing:

First aid kit and essential medications Battery-powered NOAA Weather radio, flashlight, and extra batteries Canned food and can opener Bottled water (at least one gallon of water per person per day to last at least three days) Sturdy shoes and work gloves Written instructions on how to turn off your home's utilities Stay Tuned for Storm Warnings Listen to your local TV and radio stations for updated storm information. Know what a Tornado Watch (a tornado is possible in your area) and a Tornado Warning (a tornado has been sighted and may be headed for your area) mean:

When a Tornado Watch is Issued

Listen to local TV and radio stations for further updates. Be alert to changing weather conditions. Blowing debris or the sound of an approaching tornado may alert you -- many people say it sounds like a freight train.

When a Tornado Warning is Issued

If you are inside, go to the safe place you picked to protect you and your family from glass and other flying objects. If you are outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area. If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and heady for safety (as above).

After the Tornado Passes

Watch out for fallen power lines and stay out of the damaged area. Listen to your local TV or radio stations for information and instructions. Use a flashlight to inspect your home for damage. Do not use candles at any time.

American Red Cross of Augusta 1322 Ellis Street Augusta, Georgia 30901-2749 Tel: (706) 724-8481 Fax: (706) 724-8485.

Are You Ready?( FROM FEMA)

Emergency Planning and Checklists

Now that you've learned about what can happen and how your community is prepared to respond to emergencies, prepare your family by creating a family disaster plan. Discuss with them what you would do if family members are not home when a warning is issued. Additionally, your family plan should address the following:

Escape routes.
Family communications.
Utility shut-off and safety.
Insurance and vital records.
Special needs.
Caring for animals.
Safety Skills.

Escape Routes
Draw a floor plan of your home. Use a blank sheet of paper for each floor. Mark two escape routes from each room. Make sure children understand the drawings. Post a copy of the drawings at eye level in each child's room.

Where to Meet
Establish a place to meet in the event of an emergency, such as a fire. Record the locations below:

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: a basement, a center hallway, a bathroom or a closet. Putting as many walls between you and the outside provides additional protection.

Assembling a Emergency Preparedness Kit: Kits should contain a first aid kit and 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 and other emergency items for the whole family.

Heeding Storm Warnings: 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 outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building. . If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head to the nearest building for safety. If you are outside and there are no buildings, lie flat in a low lying area or ditch and cover your head with your arms and hands.

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 reinforced 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.


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