Tuesday, May 21, 2013

When Tornadoes Strike

All of us at TIPS and the TIPS Task Force on Disaster Preparedness and Response are saddened by Monday's events and send our best wishes and offers of help to those struggling to cope with the devastation of Monday's tornadoes.   Tornadoes, like hurricanes, earthquakes, and other acts of nature, can cause significant personal and commercial harm.  Those who live in tornado country have long since had preparedness and response plans for tornadoes.  But the devastation caused by Monday's tornadoes can sometimes scrap well-made plans. 

As the search and rescue goes on, the local communities will assess the preparedness and response that took place and make refinements to those plans.  While the tornado drills help and keep people - especially children - calm, nothing can prepare for the collapse of buildings and roofs on top of people.  And it is the first responders who need to be thanked for immediately rushing to the schools and other buildings to pull people out as quickly as possible.

Those living in what they call Tornado Alley typically have tornado shelters and local communities have tornado sirens that warn of approaching storms.  In discussing the storm yesterday, the Governor of Oklahoma remarked that after a tornado hits, people must continue to listen to the weather forecasts because follow-on funnels may pop up and surprise those left exposed by the earlier destruction.  Other preparedness tips include having:
  • Food for seven days and keep in mind you may not have the means to heat or otherwise prepare the food, so it must be where it can be literally eaten from the can or package
  • Medical supplies and include any medications that must be taken on a daily basis (maintenance medication)
  • Two thermal (Mylar) blankets for each person, one to wrap in and one for ground cover
  • Rain gear for each individual
  • Insect repellent and netting if applicable
  • Tools and materials to make emergency repairs to the home to include waterproof tarps, plastic, tape (duct), and/or plywood sheeting.
FEMA has a tornado preparedness page at http://www.ready.gov/tornadoes.  The Red Cross has a free Tornado App for download.

Be safe and be prepared, and don't be a hero.  A Tornado warning is nothing to laugh about.

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