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May 20, 2013

What you need to know about preparing for tornadoes

Tornado survivors and seasoned observers suggest people do two simple things to prepare for tornadoes: Know where to take shelter, and move quickly when the time comes.

Knowing ahead of time where you’ll take cover is critical. Your shelter could be a basement, underground shelter, house with a safe room, or even a ground-floor bathtub you can hunker down in.

Plan on losing communication during the storm. Cell phones and social media can be useful for warnings, but destructive storms often wipe out cell towers and electricity, making them unavailable afterwards. Battery-powered storm radios are a more reliable source of weather information.

Also, prepare an emergency kit with food, water and supplies for 72 hours. Wondering what to include? Check out: www.ready.gov/basic-disaster-supplies-kit

Finally, move quickly when the time comes. A typical tornado warning gives people 13 minutes to take shelter.

Preparing for tornadoes on a community level is more complicated.

A community needs multiple ways to warn people of an approaching storm. Also, local leaders should consider adopting codes that require use of fortified building materials such as oriented strand board, roof-securing hardware, and measures to tighten a house’s framework to its foundation.

A community can encourage things like storm shelters and safe rooms, especially in places like mobile home parks.

Finally, communities need to plan and drill their weather spotters and first responders. They also need good relationships with nearby communities and state officials.

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