With the central and southern United States dealing with the devastation left behind from deadly severe storms, the American Red Cross of Eastern Missouri reminds everyone to prepare: Know what to do before, during and after the storm.
Preparations and precautions
Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information.
Invest in a NOAA weather radio to stay informed about watches and warnings.
Know your community’s warning system. Communities have different ways of warning residents about tornadoes.
Pick a safe room in your home where household members and pets may gather in a tornado. It could be your basement or, if there is no basement, a storm cellar, or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows. Keep this place uncluttered.
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 — without windows — in the center of the building.
Watch for tornado danger signs:
• Dark, often greenish clouds — a phenomenon caused by hail
• Wall cloud — an isolated lowering of the base of a thunderstorm
• Cloud of debris
• Large hail
• Funnel cloud — a visible rotating extension of the cloud base
• Roaring noise
If you have enough warning time ahead of a storm, prepare for high winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees or yard; and secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that could be picked up by wind.
Know what a tornado watch and warning mean.
What to do if in mobile home or outside:
Mobile homes are not safe — get to a safe structure immediately.
Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
If flying debris occurs while you are driving, pull over and park.
Now you have the following options as a last resort:
Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible.
If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the road, exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.
Your choice should be driven by your specific circumstances.
Assemble an emergency kit:
• Water — at least a three-day supply; 1 gallon per person per day
• Food — at least a three-day supply of nonperishable, easy-to-prepare food
• Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA weather radio, if possible)
• Extra batteries
• First-aid kit
• Medications (seven-day supply) and medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane)
• Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, deed/lease to home, birth certificates, insurance policies)
• Cellphone with chargers
• Family and emergency contact information
• Tornado apps
The Red Cross urges everyone to download its free, official tornado app. It puts lifesaving information right in the hands of people who live in tornado-prone areas.
The Red Cross tornado app — available in English or Spanish — gives iPhone, iPad, Android smartphone and some tablet users access to local and real-time information. The app includes a high-pitched siren and warning alert that signals people when a NOAA tornado warning has been issued in their area — even if the app is closed. In the palm of your hand, the app also includes enhanced weather maps, suggestions about how to recover and be better prepared next time, and a toolkit with flashlight, strobe light and audible alarm.
Users are also encouraged to download the Red Cross flood app — which gives valuable information about what to do when flooding threatens your area. All Red Cross mobile apps can be found at www.redcross.org/mobileapps or from the iTunes or Google Plan stores by searching for American Red Cross.