A reminder to be ready for the next storm

Monday, April 28, 2014

At least two tornadoes were confirmed in Nebraska and a string of storms killed 18 people in three states, according to accounts available this morning.

Meanwhile, wind gusts as high as 70 mph were expected in Southwest Nebraska today and snow heavy enough to obscure visibility and hamper travel was expected in Northwest Nebraska.

Is there any doubt weather is a thing to be taken seriously?

The American Red Cross, which is quick to step in in times of need, doesn't want us to get complacent just because we've had a few days of nice weather, and storms Sunday and today are a good illustration.

Unfortunately, sometimes it takes outbreaks like Sunday's tornadoes, or the first winter blizzard to persuade us to be prepared for the next storm.

The Red Cross offers these reminders to help us be ready for the next storm:

"Listen to weather alerts and designate a safe space where people can gather for the duration of the storm," said Jill Orton, Region Disaster Officer. "The area should be a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor away from windows."

As with any disaster, preparation can be the difference between life or death. The Red Cross recommends that individuals and families prepare for tornadoes by:

Creating and practicing a Home Tornado Plan: Pick a "safe room" or uncluttered area without windows where family members and pets could seek shelter on the lowest floor possible: a basement, a center hallway, a bathroom or a closet. Putting as many walls between you and the outside provides additional protection.

Assembling an Emergency Preparedness Kit: Kits should contain a first aid kit and essential medications, foods that don't require cooking or refrigeration and manual can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries and other emergency items for the whole family.

Heeding Storm Warnings: Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information. A tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible in your area. When a tornado WARNING is issued, go to the safe room you picked to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects. If you are outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building. If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head to the nearest building for safety. If you are outside and there are no buildings, lie flat in a low lying area or ditch and cover your head with your arms and hands.

Preparing for High Winds: Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased and damaged limbs, then strategically removing branches so that wind can blow through. Install permanent shutters on your windows and add protection to the outside areas of sliding glass doors. Strengthen garage doors and unreinforced masonry. Move or secure lawn furniture, outdoor decorations or ornaments, trash cans, hanging plants and anything else that can be picked up by wind and become a projectile.

Downloading the American Red Cross Tornado App is available in English or Spanish and gives iPhone, iPad and Android smart phone and tablet users instant access to local and real-time information, so they know what to do before, during and after a tornado.

It includes a high-pitched siren and "Tornado Warning!" alert, location-based NOAA tornado, severe thunderstorm and flood watchs, weather maps and information provided by the Weather Underground, one touch "I'm safe" messages for family and friends via social media outlets, preloaded content and other tools such as a flashlight.

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