Tornados are nature’s most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornado’s can uproot trees, severely damage buildings and turn harmless objects into deadly missiles. They can devastate a neighborhood in seconds. A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends to the round with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Every state is at some risk from the hazard. Kansas ranks 3rd in the nation in the number of tornadoes. For less than the cost of a new pair of shoes, you can own a special weather radio that provides instant access to the same weather reports and emergency information that meteorologists and emergency personnel use- information that can save your life.
The NOAA weather radio broadcasts National Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day. Weather radios equipped with a special alarm tone feature can sound an alert and give you immediate information about a life-threatening situation. During an emergency, National Weather Service forecasters will interrupt routine weather radio programming and send out the special tone that activates weather radios in the listening area. The hearing and visually impaired can also receive these warnings by connecting weather radios with alarm tones to other kinds of attention-getting devices like strobe lights, pagers, bed-shakers, personal computers and text printers. Public safety experts agree: the receivers should be standard equipment in every home. They are especially valuable in places that are entrusted with public safety, including hospitals, schools, places of worship, nursing homes, restaurants, grocery stores, recreation centers, office buildings, sports facilities, theaters, retail stores, bus and train stations, airports, marinas and other public-gathering places.
Tornado Watch - This means that tornado’s are possible. Stay tuned to radio or television reports. Be alert for approaching storms. Be ready to take shelter!
Tornado Warning - This means that a tornado has been sighted either by radar or by a storm spotter in the field. Take shelter immediately! Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. Do not go outside and try to see or videotape the tornado.
Tornado Shelters - The best tornado shelter is an underground shelter such as a basement or cellar. In a basement, go to the center of the room, and get under the stairwell or a heavy piece of furniture such as a pool table or workbench. This will protect you from falling debris. If there is no basement available, go to the lowest possible level and get inside a small interior room, like a bathroom or closet. Stay away form windows! It may be helpful to take some pillows, blankets or even a mattress into the room with you to protect yourself from flying debris.
If you live in a mobile home or are in a car, the safety rule is very simple: GET OUT! Both of these places are too light to withstand the powerful winds within a tornado. If you live in a mobile home park, go to the park’s tornado shelter. If you don’t have a shelter, or you are in a car, get well away from the vehicle and lie flat in a ditch or depression. Do not try to out drive a tornado, they are very erratic and move swiftly. Do not crawl underneath an overpass!
What to do after a tornado: Watch for broken glass and downed power lines. Check for injuries. Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of death or further injury. Use great caution with entering a damaged building. Be sure that walls and ceilings are in place and that the structure rests firmly on the foundation..
National Weather Service Office/Topeka