Missouri Severe Weather Awareness week is March 14 – 18: Plan ahead, it could save your life

Missouri Severe Weather Awareness Week 2016 is March 14 through 18, and, with Spring just around the corner, a time that severe weather can rear it’s ugly head, area residents need to be prepared in the unlikely event that severe weather strikes.

The annual Missouri Statewide Severe Weather Drill will be held Tuesday, March 15, at 1:30 pm. If weather threatens that day, the backup day will be Thursday, March 17, also at 1:30 pm.

Participation in the drill is voluntary, but everyone in Missouri should take a few moments to review your severe weather plans, and test you methods of receiving severe weather information.

All National Weather Service offices serving Missouri will send out a tornado warning. It will look and will act as a real warning, but it will be clearly marked as a test when it is received, whether on local radio and television stations, or, the method you use to receive severe weather alerts.

March 15 is also the date of the Missouri Primary election. The Secretary of State’s office will contact all polling locations so they know the drill will take place. There is no need to interrupt voting for the drill.

Preparedness involves a continuous process of planning, equipping, training and exercising.

Planning for severe weather at home

You must be able to get to your safe shelter area quickly – you may only have seconds to act! Your first step to surviving a tornado is to develop a plan before storms are on the horizon.

Developing a Tornado Safety Kit

These items would be extremely useful to have in your storm shelter, or to take with you to your storm shelter, when severe weather strikes.

  • Disaster Supply Kit

    You should store your emergency supplies as close to your shelter as possible.
  • Battery Operated Weather Radio

    You will want to be able to monitor the latest information directly from your National Weather Service.
     
  • A Map to Track Storms

    You will need to be able to track the progress of the storm. Since warning texts include county names, a county outline map of your area is a great thing to keep handy. You might also keep a state highway map, which includes most of the cities and towns referred to in NWS warnings and statements. The NWS Norman provides a handout with a county map, which 
    can be downloaded in pdf format.
     
  • Battery Operated TV and/or Radio

    This will allow you to monitor news and severe weather information. Radios that offer TV audio can be helpful. Also, many TV stations simulcast their broadcasts on AM or FM radio stations.
     
  • Shoes

    This will be very important if your home is damaged and you must walk across broken glass or other debris!
  • Indentification

    You may need identification to move around in the area should significant damage occur.
  • Your Car Keys

    If your car is drivable, you will need the keys to be able to use it. It’s a good idea to keep an extra set in your shelter area.
  • Cell Phone

    If there is phone service, you will certainly want your phone. However, remember that cell phone service may be interrupted after a tornado or other disaster!

Other Things To Consider

If you have a safe room or other shelter area, you might consider storing important papers and other irreplaceable items in the shelter if space permits.

Check and replace batteries in your weather radio, flashlights and other devices in your safety kit often, preferably twice a year. Do this at the same time you set clocks back/ahead in the spring and fall, and when you replace smoke detector batteries. Check you disaster supplies kit often, as well to maintain fresh food and water, etc. Remember that your disaster supplies kit could also be critical in other types of disasters, including winter storms, etc.

Make sure you have something to cover up with. Pillows, blankets, sleeping bags, a mattress could help to protect you from falling/flying debris. Above all protect your head, neck and upper body. Wear a helmet (bicycle, football, baseball, motorcycle, hard hat, etc) if you have one. If there’s room, lie flat and cover up. Otherwise, get as low to the ground as possible and make as small a target as possible.

Unfortunately, there are no safety rules – absolute safety facts that will keep you safe 100% of the time. Instead, we offer guidelines for personal safety. The vast majority of tornadoes are weak and don’t last very long. By following the guidelines included in this document, you and your family can survive a tornado. These tornado safety guidelines should reduce – but will not totally eliminate – your chances of being seriously injured or killed in a tornado.

The good news is that you can survive most tornadoes. The key to survival is planning – knowing what you need to do to be safe before a tornado threatens.

Workers need to be trained and plans need to be practiced to ensure that personnel are familiar with what to do in the event of a tornado.


You may also be interested in:
[supsystic-slider id=2 ]


 

Planning for a tornado at work

Identifying Shelter Locations

An underground area, such as a basement or storm cellar, provides the best protection from a tornado. If an underground shelter is unavailable, consider the following:

  • Seek a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible
  • Stay away from doors, windows, and outside walls
  • Stay in the center of the room, and avoid corners because they attract debris
  • Rooms constructed with reinforced concrete, brick or block with no windows and a heavy concrete floor or roof system overhead
  • Avoid auditoriums, cafeterias and gymnasiums that have flat, wide-span roofs.

Personnel should also be aware of what to do if caught outdoors when a tornado is threatening. Seek shelter in a basement or a sturdy building. If one is not within walking distance, try to drive in a vehicle, using a seat belt, to the nearest shelter. If flying debris is encountered while in a vehicle, there are two options: 1) staying in the vehicle with the seat belt on, keeping your head below the windows and covering it with your hands or a blanket, 2) if there is an area which is noticeable lower than the roadway, lie in that area and cover your head with your hands.

The following steps are recommended to help ensure the safety of personnel if a tornado occurs:

  • Develop a system for knowing who is in the building in the event of an emergency
  • Establish an alarm system to warn workers
    • Test systems frequently
    • Develop plans to communicate warnings to personnel with disabilities or who do not speak English
  • Account for workers, visitors, and customers as they arrive in the shelter
    • Use a prepared roster or checklist
    • Take a head count
  • Assign specific duties to workers in advance; create checklists for each specific responsibility. Designate and train workers alternates in case the assigned person is not there or is injured

Equipping

Training and Exercises
  • Ensure that all workers know what to do in case of an emergency.
  • Practice shelter-in-place plans on a regular basis.
  • Update plans and procedures based on lessons learned from exercises.

For more information, see the preparedness guide (PDF) developed by NOAA, FEMA and the American Red Cross.

While a tornado is considered to be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of severe weather, floods are also another emergency that comes to the forefront when severe weather strikes in the Midwest.

 

There were 27 flood related deaths in Missouri in 2015 and zero tornado deaths.

Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters. Conditions that cause floods include heavy or steady rain for several hours or days that saturates the ground. Flash floods occur suddenly due to rapidly rising water along a stream or low-lying area.

You will likely hear weather forecasters use these terms when floods are predicted in your community:

  • Flood/Flash Flood Watch—Flooding or flash flooding is possible in your area.
  • Flood/Flash Flood Warning—Flooding or flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.

Responding Appropriately During a Flood
  • Listen to area radio and television stations and a NOAA Weather Radio for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress or other critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS)
  • Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
  • When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
  • Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
  • If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
  • Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
  • Because standard homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover flooding, it’s important to have protection from the floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rains and other conditions that impact the U.S. For more flood safety tips and information on flood insurance, please visit the National Flood Insurance Program Web site at www.FloodSmart.gov.

Flood Recovery Tips
  • Return home only when officials have declared the area safe.
  • Before entering your home, look outside for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage.
  • Parts of your home may be collapsed or damaged. Approach entrances carefully. See if porch roofs and overhangs have all their supports.
  • Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes that may have come into your home with the floodwater.
  • If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department.
  • If power lines are down outside your home, do not step in puddles or standing water.
  • Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwater.
  • Materials such as cleaning products, paint, batteries, contaminated fuel and damaged fuel containers are hazardous. Check with local authorities for assistance with disposal to avoid risk.
  • During cleanup, wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots.
  • Make sure your food and water are safe. Discard items that have come in contact with floodwater, including canned goods, water bottles, plastic utensils and baby bottle nipples. When in doubt, throw it out!
  • Contact your local or state public health department to see if your water supply might be contaminated. You may need to boil or treat it before use. Do not use water that could be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula

It’s best not to wait until you find yourself in the middle of an emergency situation. Prepare a plan.

  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
  • Tools/supplies for securing your home
  • Extra set of car keys and house keys
  • Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
  • Rain gear
  • Insect repellent and sunscreen
  • Camera for photos of damage
Responding Appropriately During a Flood
  • Listen to area radio and television stations and a NOAA Weather Radio for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress or other critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS)
  • Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
  • When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
  • Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
  • If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
  • Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
  • Because standard homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover flooding, it’s important to have protection from the floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rains and other conditions that impact the U.S. For more flood safety tips and information on flood insurance, please visit the National Flood Insurance Program Web site at www.FloodSmart.gov.