According to FEMA’s website, ready.gov, U.S. residents can take several preparedness steps to protect themselves in the event of a severe weather event.
· Be weather-aware: To protect yourself, you first have to be aware of the weather. The city of Norman’s Emergency Management Coordinator, David Grizzle, said the city’s sirens are designed to be an outdoor warning signal and are not designed to be heard indoors. Residents should take steps to inform themselves on the weather in other ways.
The ready.gov website suggests using multiple platforms such as TV, radio and Internet to hear the latest weather news. Crank radios can be especially useful in case of a power outage.
Residents also are advised to be alert of changing weather conditions and to look for approaching storms, including danger signs such as a dark, often greenish sky; large hail; a large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating); and a loud roar, similar to a freight train. If approaching storms show danger signs, shelter should be sought immediately.
· Family communication plan: Having a communication plan can help eliminate some of the confusion before, during and after a tornado. The ready.gov website suggests forming plans for each family member depending on where they could be when severe weather strikes.
Norman’s Emergency Management website suggests identifying the safest shelter areas in each possible location, such as an interior room with no windows or the lowest level of a building. The family emergency plan also should determine when to seek shelter in or outside the home and when to possibly vacate.
A meeting place also should be established in the event family members are separated. Cross said families with children should consider practicing their plans.
“It’s kind of like driving a car,” he said. “The first time you get behind a car you’re just scared to death, but the more you do it, the more practiced you get, you’re more comfortable with it. So the more you practice, the better you get at it and it just becomes a habit.”