Awareness key to tornado safety
Posted: Tue Apr 23, 2002 2:59 pm
What are the chances of a real multiple-tornado storm system striking Wisconsin on the very day that a statewide tornado drill is scheduled? Ironic indeed. Numerous funnel clouds were spotted in the Tomahawk area and one even touched down on Hwy. 8. Along with the tornado activity came some of the biggest hail we’ve ever seen.<p>Last week was in fact Tornado Awareness Week in Wisconsin. But how many of us really pay attention to all the various “awareness weeks” until we come face to face with whatever it was we were supposed to be aware of?<p>Severe tornadoes are rare in the Tomahawk area. Most of those that we experience here are relatively mild, but even a weak tornado can be dangerous. This isn’t Kansas, where major twisters rip up the landscape on a regular basis, but we have seen a few tornadoes in recent years.<p>We already have our first big funnel cloud frenzy under our belts for this year, but it probably won’t be the last. As the season progresses and the weather gets warmer, the chance for more powerful tornadoes increases.<p>The American Red Cross offers some tips to being prepared for tornadoes and severe weather. Taking a few moments to discuss these preparedness steps with your family could save your life or the lives of the people you love.<p>•Creating and practicing a home tornado plan is very important. Pick an uncluttered place where family members can seek shelter: a basement, a center hallway, bathroom or closet on the lowest floor of the house are good choices.<p>•Assembling a disaster supplies kit is also a good idea. Kits should contain a first aid kit and essential medications, canned food and a manual can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries and other emergency items for the whole family.<p>•Always heed storm warnings. Listen to the local radio or television stations for updated storm information. A tornado watch means a tornado is possible in the area. If a tornado warning is issued, that means tornado activity has been detected in the area and you should seek shelter. If you are outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area. If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head for safety.<p>•Prepare for high winds. Make trees more wind resistent by removing diseased or damaged limbs, then, strategically removing branches so that wind can blow through. More drastic measures include installing permanent shutters on your windows and adding protection to the outside areas of sliding glass doors. A good idea when a storm is on the way is to move or secure lawn furniture, outdoor decorations or ornaments, trash cans, hanging plants and anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.<p>We were glad to hear that nobody was hurt in Thursday’s storm. There will be more storms this year, though, and with a little “awareness” we should all make it through just fine.