Severe weather awareness week: Tornado safety tips

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TOEPKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Tornado sirens across northeast Kansas (and the entire state for that matter) will be sounding at 10:00am today, Tuesday March 6th.

The drill is a time to practice and discuss what you would do with others in your household if a tornado warning was issued in your area.

It may be easy to know what to do in the event of a tornado warning, but actually practicing it makes it easier and less scary - especially with children - when it actually occurs. When a tornado warning is issued remember the acronym ‘DUCK’:

Down to the lowest level: You’ll want to be in a basement or a room without windows in the lowest level of your home.

Under something sturdy: A staircase or a heavy table helps keep you covered from debris that may fly into the room.

Cover your head: Wearing a helmet is recommended, as concussions are the leading cause of injuries during a tornado. If you don’t have a helmet, cover yourself with blankets and/or pillows.

Keep in the shelter until the storm has passed: Having something portable (radio, weather radio, cell phone) is useful in order to know when the warning expires.

If you’re traveling and observe a tornado near you, the best action to take is to quickly seek shelter in a sturdy building. If seeking shelter inside is not possible, consider driving away from the tornado if you are a reasonable distance and have an escape route. If you feel you can’t escape, pull over to park and consider the following options, keeping in mind these are last resort and in no particular order since these are situational dependent:

1. Stay in the car with your seat belt still fastened. Cover your head with your hand while ducking below the windows. If you have a blanket put that over your head too.

2. If you can safely get to a ditch that is noticeably lower than the level of the road exit your car and lie in that area while covering your head. Do not do this if it’s raining hard and flooding is occurring.

If you are in a mobile home, abandon it immediately. Have a plan and know where to go if there’s a threat of a tornado or even damaging wind gusts that could do the same type of damage as a tornado. The annual death rate in mobile homes are 20 times higher than a permanent home and were the most common location for tornado fatalities (44%) from 1985-2005 vs a permanent home (25.3%) or a car (9.9%). In many cases your car may be safer than a mobile home since they have a lower center of gravity compared to a mobile home and don’t flip as easily.

With all this being said it’s important to keep in mind that with forecasting technology, as well as other technology such as cell phones and GPS, it’s easier to plan ahead. Knowing the forecast and having a plan on a severe weather day should involve staying close to a proper storm shelter and avoiding these situations altogether.

You may know what to do when you’re at home or familiar with the local area, but tornadoes can happen anywhere and at anytime, so knowing the forecast when you’re traveling - including the county you are traveling to - helps in being weather aware and will keep you from getting caught off guard. The new WIBW Weather App can help you with that anywhere you go as well as long as you have the 'Follow Me' function on so the GPS is enabled and any severe weather you run into nationwide- you would be alerted.

Be prepared with the new WIBW Weather app

WIBW is launching a new 13 Weather app. When storms strike, you won’t be caught off-guard.

  • With location-based alerts, you can know every notification you get was meant for you;
  • Track the storms, road conditions, and more on the highest resolution interactive radar available;
  • A clean design lets you quickly and easily keep up with the ever-changing Kansas weather.

Download it today!

Click here for iPhones and iPads

Click here for Android