Archive for Thursday, March 18, 2004

Weather Service to host tornado safety seminar

March 18, 2004

Kansas lies within an area dubbed by some as "tornado alley," and with the beginning of spring just days away, it's approaching its meanest season for destructive force winds.

Although the traditional start of the severe weather season begins in March, peak storm activity doesn't generally occur until April, May and June. Storms during these months kill an average of 80 people per year and injure 1,500.

Last year, in May, Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties saw firsthand how destructive these storms can become. Cyclones classified by weather officials as an F4 shredded through numerous homes in both ounties leaving some properties damaged or completely destroyed.

Weather officials said the 2003 tornado season was the most violent in 25 years. In Kansas, there were 91 tornadoes statewide; on average the Sunflower state sees 52 tornadoes per year.

To prepare residents for a similar output this year, the National Weather Service in Kansas City and Pleasant Hill, Mo., will present a free public seminar on storm spotting and severe weather next month. The seminar is scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m. April 5 at Clark Middle School in Bonner Springs.

Seminar registration begins at 6 p.m. Seminar participants will receive a certificate for in-service hours for daycare, nursery and pre-school workers.

Persons who wish more information about the seminar may call (913) 721-2945.

For those unable to attend the seminar, tornado safety tips, contributed by the American Red Cross, are listed below:

  • Prepare a Home Tornado Plan: Select a designated place to gather in the event of a tornado. A basement is ideal, but if your home has no underground level, a central hallway, bathroom or closet on the lowest floor should be used. If you find yourself in a high-rise building during a tornado, go to a hallway in the center of the building.
  • Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit: Put together a permanent collection of items that are easily accessible in emergency (ideally kept in your basement or safe room). It should include a first aid kit, essential medications, canned food and a can opener, three gallons of water per person, protective clothing, bedding, a battery-powered radio, a flashlight, extra batteries, items for any special needs the family may have (infant or elderly needs, for example), and written instructions on how to turn off electricity, gas and water.
  • Stay Tuned for Storm Warnings: Tune in to local radio and TV stations for storm information. A tornado watch means a tornado is possible in your area. A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted and may be headed for your area.
  • If a Tornado Watch Is Issued: Monitor the news for updates. Pay attention to changing weather conditions -- blowing debris or a sound similar to an approaching freight train can mean a tornado is nearby.
  • If a Tornado Warning Is Issued: Go into your basement or safe room immediately. If you are outside, try to get into the basement of a nearby building, or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area. If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head for safety.

Detailed instructions on how to prepare your family and home for a tornado are available at the Red Cross Internet site at www.redcross.org on their page titled Disaster Safety.

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