How to keep your family protected
FS&H: What are some tips for conducting a tornado drill?
Nelson: When conducting a drill, always make sure everyone is aware of the date/time of the drill to avoid panic. Once everyone reaches their safe room, remind them to crouch down on the floor and cover their heads with their hands. After everyone has moved to their safe room, announce that the drill is over.
FS&H: What should you do if you’re outside during a tornado?
Nelson: If you are driving and see a tornado, you should pull over as soon as you safely can do so and, if possible, park away from trees or anything else that could become flying debris. If there is a sturdy building nearby and you have time to safely get to shelter, seek shelter immediately. If there is no shelter nearby, you have to use your best judgment – you may either get out of the vehicle and lay flat on your stomach in a nearby ditch and cover your head with your hands (away from anything that could become flying debris), or you may stay in your vehicle and get down as low as possible below the windows and dashboard and cover your head with your hands.
FS&H: Why should people avoid using underpasses as shelters?
Nelson: Have you ever noticed how much stronger the wind is when you walk down a narrow city street with skyscrapers on either side? That’s basically a “wind tunnel” effect, and the same thing happens as wind rushes through an underpass. The winds there will be stronger and will channel any nearby flying debris. This is not a safe place to take shelter.
FS&H: In this age of smartphones, some people might want to take pictures/videos of storms – or drive closer to get a “better shot.” Why should people avoid this temptation?
Nelson: Tornadoes are unpredictable, so please leave storm chasing to trained professionals. Don’t gamble with Mother Nature just to get a great photograph or video to post on social media. After a tornado outbreak, first responders will have a hard enough time getting to people who need help. Please don’t rush out in your vehicle to tornado chase and add yourself to the list of people who need to be rescued.
FS&H: What are some things to keep in mind in the aftermath of a storm?
- If you are properly trained, provide first aid to those in need until paramedics arrive.
- Stay aware and get the latest updates from NOAA Weather Radio, the Emergency Alert System and local authorities/media.
- Use caution after a disaster. Wear sturdy shoes, work gloves, long pants and even eye goggles, if available.
- If there is a lot of debris, use a mask or cover your mouth with a cloth or T-shirt to avoid breathing in dust, smoke or other harmful air particles.
- Do not touch or try to move downed power lines or utility lines.
- Do not walk or drive through floodwaters.
- Do not enter damaged buildings unless you know they are safe.
- Text or use social media to contact loved ones rather than call. Phone systems may be down or busy after a disaster, so please save phone calls for emergencies.
- If your property was damaged, call your insurance company and be aware of “insurance scammers.”
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