Published: Wednesday, April 04, 2001
Every household should have a tornado plan and regularly practice using it, according to the National Disaster Education Coalition.
The first step is to select a safe place inside the residence where family members can take shelter during a tornado, according to coalition literature. The safest place is underground. If a basement or tornado shelter is not available, the safe area should be an interior room on the lowest floor of the structure.
Coalition documents state that it is important to put as many walls as possible between the family and exterior walls. Central bathrooms, closets and hallways often make excellent safe areas. There should not be any windows or glass doors in a safe area. Keep the area uncluttered to provide quick and easy access.
Persons living in manufactured homes should select a safe area in a nearby sturdy building or a tornado shelter.
The second step is to select a warning device for use when there is an approaching tornado. While some communities in the area use sirens, Lubbock relies on National Weather Service information disseminated by weather radio and local radio, television and cable stations.
Ed Calianese, warning coordination meteorologist for the Lubbock office of the Nation Weather Service, recommended the use of a battery-powered weather radio having a tone-alert feature. However, commercial radio and television stations are part of the weather service's warning systems. Those who rely on commercial broadcast stations should make sure battery-powered receivers are available. Keep fresh batteries installed at all times, replacing them when replacing batteries in smoke detectors.
While many weather-related Web sites provide good storm prediction information, Calianese said Internet sites are not a reliable source for use during severe weather. Storm-related power outages may sever Internet connections. The primary source for information should be a battery-powered radio, he said.
The third step suggested by the coalition is to designate at least two places to meet after a tornado has passed. These are places where family members may meet if separated during a disaster. Make the primary location a short distance from the home, but make the secondary location a longer distance away. Do this so that if the primary site is not available there is another location for the family to meet to determine the safety of all members.
The fourth step recommended by the coalition is to conduct periodic tornado drills to make sure that each family member knows where to go and what to do during a tornado. An appropriate response should become a routine action, according to the disaster coalition.
Options to the basic plan may include posting emergency numbers within the safe area and near telephones, having family members learn cardiopulmonary recitation and first aid, stocking a three-day supply of food and supplies, and assembling a disaster kit in sturdy, easy-to-carry, waterproof containers. Keep a smaller disaster kit in the trunk of a motor vehicle.
After a tornado has passed, the disaster coalition recommends continuing to monitor weather radio broadcasts as well as commercial radio and television broadcasts. These broadcast provide information and instructions regarding rescue and support efforts and road access.
The coalition recommends family tornado plans include providing assistance to injured and trapped persons, infants, elderly people and individuals with disabilities. Do not enter damaged buildings. Do not go near downed power lines and broken gas lines, but report such hazards immediately. Restrict telephone usage to emergency calls.