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Prepare your family now for tornado safety

Alabamians are well aware of the destructive power of torna- does. It was nine years ago this month – April 27, 2011 – that 62 confirmed tornadoes cut a swath through Alabama, and 238 people in the state lost their lives. Thousands more were injured.

So there’s perhaps no better time to review tornado safety plans and talk with your family about them. But remember, tornadoes can occur at any time of day or night and at any time of the year.

  • Be weather-ready: Check the forecast regularly to see if you’re at risk for tornadoes. Listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed about tornado watches and warnings. Check the Weather-Ready Nation for tips.
  • Sign up for notifications: Know how your community sends warnings. Some communities have outdoor sirens. Others depend on media and smart phones to alert residents of severe storms capable of producing tornadoes.
  • Create a communications plan: Have a family plan that includes an emergency meeting place and related information. If you live in a mobile home or home without a basement, identify a nearby safe building you can get too quickly, such as a church or family member.
  • Know your safe place: Pick a safe room in your home, such as a basement, storm cellar, or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
  • Practice your plan: Conduct a family severe thunderstorm drill regularly so everyone knows what to do if a tornado is approaching. Make sure all members of your family know to go there when tornado warnings are issued. Don’t forget pets if time allows.
  • Prepare your home: Consider having your safe room reinforced. You can find plans for reinforcing an interior room to provide better protection on the Federal Emergency Management Agency website.
  • Help your neighbor: Encourage your loved ones to prepare for the possibility of tornadoes. Take CPR training so you can help if someone is hurt.

During a tornado

  • Stay weather-ready: Continue to listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay updated about tornado watches and warnings.
  • At your house: If you are in a tornado warning, go to your basement, safe room, or an interior room away from win- dows. Don’t forget pets if time allows.
  • At your workplace or school: Follow your tornado drill and proceed to your tornado shelter location quickly and calmly. Stay away from windows and do not go to large open rooms such as cafeterias, gymnasiums, or auditoriums.
  • Outside: Seek shelter inside a sturdy building immediately if a tornado is approaching. Sheds and storage facilities are not safe. Neither is a mobile home or tent. If you have time, get to a safe building.
  • In a vehicle: Being in a vehicle during a tornado is not safe. The best course of action is to drive to the closest shelter. If you are unable to make it to a safe shelter, either get down in your car and cover your head, or abandon your car and seek shelter in a low lying area such as a ditch or ravine.

Information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)