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Tornado Readiness Resources

It’s spring and that means we will probably be seeing an increase in tornado activity. Are you prepared to take shelter if a tornado is coming your way?

Go through the items in your emergency kit to be sure nothing is outdated and everything works properly. Make copies of important documents and put them in a zipper bag to keep in your emergency kit.

Be sure you have a weather radio in your home and in your vehicle so you can stay aware of weather alerts.

Brush up on safety procedures with your family. Here are some links with useful information:

Discovery.com shows us 5 Tornado Safety Myths Debunked. Knowing what is fact and what is fiction is essential to staying safe during a tornado.

Iowa State University has Tornado Safety Rules so you’ll know what to do if you’re at home, in a car, in a motel or in a mobile home.

Emergency preparedness organizations offer a Tornado Safety Checklist PDF that you can print off and keep handy. They also offer a Tornado Warning & Alert app for Android and iPhone. It provides you with step-by-step instructions, quizzes, and everything you need to know about tornado safety and preparedness.

The following video is great to share with the family so everyone understands Tornado Safety.

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Driving and Flood Waters

flood fatalities

As National Flood Safety Awareness Week continues, I thought it was interesting that, according to NOAA, 39% of people killed in flash floods in 2012 were killed while driving.

A driver approaches a section of road with water across it. The water doesn’t look deep, so the driver assumes it is safe to cross. Only he assumes wrong as the car gets carried away to deeper water before the driver can even think about escape.

Did you know that it only takes 18 inches of water to lift your vehicle and carry it away? That isn’t much water, so even if it looks like there isn’t a lot of water covering the road, that doesn’t mean it is safe to cross.

Once the vehicle is floating, it often rolls over, trapping anyone inside. Make sure you have an emergency auto hammer in an easy to access location, just in case you find yourself in a vehicle in the water.

The best course of action when you encounter flooded roads is to turn around. Don’t risk your life to get where you are going.

Image Credit: NOAA

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National Flood Safety Awareness Week

Next week, March 17 – 23, is National Flood Safety Awareness Week. You may not give flooding a lot of though, but if you get rain, you can get floods. That means you must be prepared for them.

FEMA will be offering lots of tips all week to help you get ready for the possibility of floods. I thought we’d kick things off early by showing you how devastating floods can really be.

Never drive on flooded roads. The water may not look deep, but that may be deceptive. And even just a few inches of water and carry your car into much deeper water.

And make sure you have an emergency kit for yourself and your pets.

photo credit: U.S. Geological Survey via photopin cc

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How Strong Is a Tornado?

Joplin tornado

After reading an article about the likelihood of a tornado taking Dorothy’s house to Oz, I started wondering how strong the average tornado really is.

The article concluded that, in order to move Dorothy’s house, the tornado would need to produce winds at least 334 miles per hour. A tornado like this would top the Enhanced Fujita Scale used to measure wind speeds of tornadoes.

The Enhanced Fujita Scale is as follows:

  • EF0 65-85 mph
  • EF1 86-110
  • EF2 111-135
  • EF3 136-165
  • EF4 166-200
  • EF5 more than 200 mph

According to an article in USA Today, the fastest wind speed ever recorded was 318 mph, from a tornado that hit Oklahoma City in 1999. The tornado that carried Dorothy away would have had to be inconceivably intense. After seeing how tornadoes of that strength devastated Joplin, Missouri in 2011, the idea of a house landing safely in one piece is far fetched to be sure. Still, it makes for a great story.

In an article on USTornadoes.com, it is stated that 20 states have experienced tornadoes in the EF5 category. They have a chart of strongest tornadoes by state from 1950 to 2011. Kansas, where Dorothy is from, has had 8 EF5 tornadoes in that time-frame.

The US sees around 1300 tornadoes a year, but the majority of them seem to be EF0 – EF2. And that is relatively good news, but still a concern. Tornadoes do a great deal of damage, even when they are “weak.”

Are tornadoes a big concern where you live? Even if an EF5 isn’t likely, 96% of the US has experienced strong tornadoes that are EF2 or higher, so it makes sense to be prepared for them. If you don’t have a suitable room in your home, or if you don’t have a basement, have you considered building a storm shelter?

Make sure you have an emergency survival bag and first aid kit close by so you are as prepared as possible for a tornado, no matter how strong it is. A search and rescue kit may be wise to have on hand as well. People are likely to need help after the dust settles.

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Spring Is Almost Here. Are you Ready for Floods?

spring flooding

While many of us are happily anticipating the arrival of spring, it is also important to be aware of the possibility of flooding. Flooding is one hazard that can occur anywhere and is the most common one across the country.

Heavy rains and melting snow saturate the ground until the water just can’t be absorbed anymore. Rivers, lakes and creeks are filled to overflowing, and the result is areas getting flooded. Sometimes flooding is minor, but often the results are devastating. Loss of life and property, sadly, are common.

There are a few things you can do to prepare for this type of disaster. Elevating the furnace and water heater may protect them from getting wet in a flood. Check valves can prevent floodwater from backing up into your home plumbing. Basement walls should be sealed with waterproofing materials.

If you know you live in a flood prone area, consider building barriers to keep floodwater out of your home. While this may not always be possible, if you are able to do it, it may help save your property from extensive damage.

Flood insurance is also a smart investment. Check out FloodSmart.gov to see how affordable it really is, as well as learning how much a flood could actually cost you with the Cost of Flooding tool.

Of course, as when you prepare for any type of disaster, you should have an emergency survival kit and a family emergency plan so everyone knows what to do when disaster strikes. The more prepared you are, the less you need to worry about the safety of your family.

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