SAFETY NOTES - Tips can help prepare for tornado season
Story by: Garrison Safety Office
With the recent devastation in Oklahoma, Ohio and the catastrophic disasters in Arkansas and Alabama, it reminds us it's the season for severe weather in Kansas, especially tornadoes.
We live in one of the places with the most potential to experience Mother Nature's unpredictable fury – "Tornado Alley."
Spring has arrived and with it the potential for severe weather. Over the last several years, April showers have actually manifested as severe storms that smash the May flowers.
Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood in seconds. A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground, with whirling winds that can easily 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 this hazard. Disaster experts urge awareness to avoid injuries.
To learn more about how to survive in a tornado visit www.fema.gov/hazard/tornado/index.shtm.
With the frequency and the total numbers of tornadoes thus far, we could easily exceed the present record of tornados this year.
"This could be one of the most devastating tornado outbreaks in the nation's history by the time it's over," said Sean Morris, CNN meteorologist.
Develop a Family disaster plan for home, work, school and when outdoors. First, you will need current information about the hazards in your area.
At Fort Riley, you will hear a siren to indicate severe weather, known as the "Giant Voice." The Giant Voice alert system provides notifications to the Fort Riley community. The mass notification system consists of a series of towers that have loud speakers mounted on top to notify the community of pending emergencies or natural disasters.
You should immediately seek shelter and tune in to the post's Channel 2, Riley TV or your local radio station for updates and area specific information. You should have an emergency supply kit onhand for both your home and car. This kit should include a weather radio with fresh batteries, flashlight with fresh batteries, drinking water, blankets and nonperishable foods among other items.
For a comprehensive list and to learn more about emergency supply kits visit, www.riley.army.mil/UnitPage.aspx?unit=ReadyArmy.
During a tornado or when a tornado has been sighted and you are in a structure, go to the pre-designated shelter area like a safe room, basement, storm cellar or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level – closet, interior hallway – away from corners, windows, doors and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck. Do not open windows. If you are in a vehicle, trailer or mobile home, get out immediately. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes. If you are outside with no shelter, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression, cover your head with your hands or go inside a near building.
Be aware of the potential for flooding. Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location. Never try to outrun a tornado. Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris during tornadoes causes the most fatalities and injuries.
After a tornado, keep tuned to the local radio or TV station to get an "all clear" signal before leaving your shelter. Be alert to fire hazards, as well as downed and exposed electrical wires, broken natural gas lines, oil leaks or smoldering piles of debris. If your home is badly damaged, contact your unit for information on temporary quarters. If off post, contact your local American Red Cross for shelter information. Recovering from a disaster is usually a gradual process. Your safety is our primary issue.
The Garrison Safety Office offers severe weather training. To schedule this training for your organization, call 785-239-2514.
TERMS TO KNOW
Tornado Watch: Conditions are right and tornadoes are possible in your area. Start preparation to move to your shelter, monitor your radio and remain alert for approaching storms.
Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. If a tornado warning is issued for your area and the sky becomes threatening, move to your pre-designated place of safety.