Tornado safety paramount this time of year

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By Amber Coulter

An emergency preparedness kit should at least include the following items:

  • One gallon of water per person, per day and nonperishable, easy-to-prepare food. A two-week supply is suggested for the home.
  • A flashlight.
  • A battery-powered or hand-crank radio, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio, if possible.
  • Extra batteries.
  • A first-aid kit.
  • Medications for at least seven days and medical items.
  • A multi-purpose tool.
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items.
  • Copies of personal documents, such as a list of medications and pertinent medical information, deed or lease to the home, passports, birth certificates and insurance policies.
  • A cell phone with chargers.
  • Family and emergency contact information.
  • Extra cash.
  • An emergency blanket.
  • Maps of the area.

Source: The American Red Cross


As tornado season officially begins this month, local experts stress preparation in case of a twister.

During any storm, residents should seek alerts for watches and warnings from various media outlets, according to the American Red Cross. All residents should know their communities’ warning systems.

Hardin County’s disaster warning system includes sirens and a phone notification system, said Doug Finlay, deputy director of Hardin County Emergency Management.

The phone notification system often is not used during tornado threats because it works too slowly to be of assistance, he said.

Sirens are meant to warn anyone who is outdoors and unaware of the danger of a possible tornado. Those aware of the potential for tornados should seek shelter and use weather radios or local news sources for information, rather than relying on hearing outdoor sirens, he said.

Residents should pick a safe room in their home where household members and pets can gather during a tornado, such as a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows, according to the American Red Cross website.

While in basements, it is wise to get under something sturdy, such as a stairwell, if a tornado is imminent, Finlay said.

Everyone should practice tornado drills and be aware of their surroundings, he said. Residents should put their plans into effect if they see anything that could indicate a tornado, he said.

“If you have a family, have a plan,” Finlay said.

Tornado danger signs include dark and often greenish clouds caused by hail, an isolated lowering of the base of a thunderstorm known as a wall cloud, a cloud of debris, large hail, a visible rotating extension of the cloud base — known as a funnel cloud — and a roaring noise.

Mobile homes are vulnerable in a tornado and residents should seek other shelter when a threat arises.

Those caught outdoors are advised to seek shelter in a basement or sturdy building if they can get to one or get into a vehicle and drive, with seat belts on, to shelter if possible, according to the American Red Cross.

If there is flying debris, drivers should pull over and park.

They then can stay in the car with seat belts on, putting their heads below windows and covering their heads with their hands or blankets. Another option is to leave the car and lie in an area noticeably lower than the roadway, covering their heads with their hands, according to the website.

Finlay suggested finding shelter if possible.

“It’s not good to be in cars or in a mobile home, period,” he said.

Residents also should prepare for high winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees and moving or securing lawn furniture, trash cans or anything else that can become a projectile when picked up by the wind, according to American Red Cross.


Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746

or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com.