Archive for Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tornado prompts reminders of severe weather safety

February 29, 2012

After the disastrous Tornado that hit Harveyville, Kan., Tuesday, the city of Bonner Springs is reminding its residents of precautions to take during severe weather.

Peak tornado activity generally occurs in the months of March, April, May and June and Kansas lies within the area of the nation known as “Tornado Alley,” which experiences more tornadoes each year than any other part of the United States. Because of the destructive power of nature, it is important for families to review tornado safety procedures.

Tornadoes are violently rotating columns of wind that extend to the surface of the earth. They come in many shapes and sizes, and do not always appear in the classic “funnel” form. Occurring most often during thunderstorms, these wind columns must be in contact with a cloud and the ground to be classified as a tornado. A twister can last anywhere from a few seconds to more than an hour — but most last less than 10 minutes.

The following are tornado safety tips from the American Red Cross:

• Prepare a Home Tornado Plan: Select a designated place to gather in the event of a tornado. A basement is ideal, but if a home has no underground level, a central hallway, bathroom or closet on the lowest floor should be used. In a high-rise building during a tornado, occupants should 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 an emergency (ideally kept in the basement or a 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. It is also important to remember that while Bonner Springs has an outdoor siren warning system, but it is important to remember that it is only designed to alert people that are out of doors. It is not necessarily designed to be heard inside of every house in the city. If residents do hear the siren, they should immediately head for shelter. It is also important to know that there is no “all clear” signal, so every time the siren sounds, residents should head to shelter. That is why it is critical to listen to the news when storms approach the area.

According to Bob Evans, Wyandotte County Emergency Management Director, everyone should have an emergency weather radio as part of their emergency supplies. Price Chopper stores help sponsor this program by offering these battery-operated radios, which provide you with direct broadcasts from the National Weather service, for $29.95.

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 a basement or safe room immediately. Those who are outside should try to get into the basement of a nearby building, or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area. Those in a car or mobile home should get out immediately and head for safety.

Detailed instructions on how to prepare for a tornado are available at redcross.org on the page titled “Disaster Safety.” Also, in order to help citizens prepare for severe storms season, the city has prepared a resource book as well as other emergency preparedness brochures and information with a variety of handouts that contain tips and checklists for preparing for a storm event. A copy of this resource book is available at both City Hall and the library.

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