Mason County News
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Tornadoes and Tornado Safety
Wednesday, February 25, 2009 • Posted February 25, 2009

Governor's Division of Emergency Management

Tornadoes can strike day or night any place at any time of the year. Learn the signs and take action.

• Tornadoes happen most often in spring and early summer. They often strike in the late afternoon or early evening when temperatures are highest. But they can happen anywhere-any time of day-any season of the year.

• This year, a small tornado struck in Texas at 7 a.m. January 13-damaging a building and cars in San Marcos. Florida tornadoes struck four counties after midnight of February 2, killing 20 people.

• When storms approach, monitor TV, radio and NOAA weather radio broadcasts. Keep a battery-powered radio for emergencies.

• A TORNADO WATCH is issued when a sever weather system may spawn tornadoes. It means watch the sky. A TORNADO WARNING lasts for one hour or less and it means take action right now. A tornado is on the ground or about to be on the ground.

• Tornado signs can include:

-A strong, persistent, rotating movement in the clouds

-A greenish black or coal black sky in daytime

-Small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level at night- could mean power lines snapped by heavy wind

-Sudden hail or intense rain-followed by a dead calm or a rapid shift in the winds

-A loud, continuous roar or rumble

-Debris swirling up into the sky in a circular motion

• Remember, a tornado that does not look like it is moving to the left or right may be moving toward you.

When a tornado is sighted, get low and stay low. If you can, get inside--away from windows.

• When a tornado is sighted, get low and stay low.

• Never try to outrun a tornado in a vehicle. If you see a tornado, get out of the car. Take shelter in a ditch, ravine or culvert. Be alert to potential flooding.

• Do not seek shelter beneath an overpass. High winds and flying debris are likely to cause injuries.

• If you are in a mobile home, get out immediately. Walk or run to the nearest sturdy building-or take shelter in a ditch or ravine. If you are outside, lie flat and cover your head to protect yourself from flying debris.

• Avoid any area with a wide, unsupported roof. That includes auditoriums, cafeterias, gymnasiums, theaters or central courts at malls. Got to interior rooms with no windows.

• Most tornado fatalities result from injuries to the head or neck from flying debris. Protect yourself with thick padding such as blankets or mattresses- or quickly get under a sturdy piece of furniture-a table, bench or church pew.

• If you are in an office, hospital or nursing home, go to the lowest floor. Stay away from windows. Avoid elevators. Shelter in a stairwell, hallway, storage closet or bathroom.

• At school, follow the drill. Take shelter in an inside room, hallway, storage closet or stairwell. Avoid windows or any area with large amounts of glass.

• At home, take shelter in a room without windows on the lowest floor- a bathroom, hallway, closet or stairwell.

• If you are outside and there is no sturdy building nearby, take shelter in a low-lying area. Keep an eye out for flooding.

Prepare, plan and practice before a tornado hits.

• Have a family tornado plan. Ask about tornado plans in offices, stores or other areas you visit frequently. Learn the locations of interior shelters.

• Know where to shelter in the house. Store protective materials- such as blankets or sleeping bags- in shelter.

• Regularly practice a family tornado drill.

• In case family members are separated, plan a place to call to let others know you are safe. Plan a place to meet if you are cut off from your neighborhood.

• Monitor TV and radio broadcasts and NOAA weather radio. Listen for warnings. Listen to instructions from local officials.

• Remembers, practice the plan. Have a place to call and a place to meet.

Practice these safety precautions after the storm.

• Keep your family group together and wait for emergency personnel.

• Stay clam. Continue to monitor broadcasts. Listen for instructions from local officials or emergency personnel.

• Stay away from power lines or puddles with wires in them. They may still be hot

• Watch your step to avoid dangerous debris, sharp objects, nails or broken glass

• Damaged structures may collapse at any moment. Stay out!

• Do not use matches or lighters. Fuel tanks or propane tanks may be leaking.

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