How to Prepare for Tornado Season in Oklahoma

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In truth, all year is pretty much tornado season in Oklahoma. But the prime conditions begin around late March and continue through August during a typical year. Oklahoma City, in fact, is one of the cities most hit by tornadoes in the United States.

Tips to Prepare

If you will be visiting or live in Oklahoma during tornado season, the tips below will help prepare you in case a twister touches down. Some tips could possibly even save your life. Also, find out more about Oklahoma City tornado sirens.

  • Prepare your tornado plan: Just as schools and workplaces have specific plans in the case of a tornado, so should you for your home. The first thing to do is designate your "shelter room." If your home doesn't have an underground storm shelter, choose a location that is the lowest, smallest, and most central. Often this is a cellar or basement or it could be a central hallway or bathroom. Make sure you are as far as possible from outside walls and windows.
  • Know the dangers of mobile homes: For those living in mobile homes, your tornado plan should take you to a preselected, permanent structure. If the warning time is not sufficient, do not attempt to drive when a tornado is near. You are safer lying in a ditch or depression than driving or remaining in a mobile home.
  • Prepare your tornado kit: Every household should have an emergency kit that is easily accessible when tornado conditions arrive. A tornado kit should include the following:
    • Battery-powered radio or television
    • Flashlight
    • Extra batteries for both of the above
    • First-aid kit
    • Sturdy shoes for every member of the family
    • Identification and cash
    • Spare set of keys to vehicles
    • Food and water
    • Pet leash or pet carrier
    • Blankets
    • Cell phone charger
  • Always stay weather-informed: With today's technology, media outlets often know a few days in advance when conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form. Download weather apps for your smartphone so you will be alerted to severe weather. Keep informed of the weather forecast, and always watch for these signs of possible tornadoes:
    • Dark, greenish sky
    • Wall cloud
    • Cloud rotation or strong, swirling winds
    • Loud roar, often described as sounding like a freight train
  • Act quickly: If a tornado warning has been issued in your area, don't waste time. Grab your tornado kit, pillows, and blankets, and immediately go to your shelter room. Make sure everyone is wearing their sturdy shoes. Use the radio to listen to weather broadcasts, and don't leave your shelter room until the tornado danger has passed. If a tornado strikes, use pillows, blankets, arms, hands, or a hardback book to cover your head and neck.
  • Know your aftermath plan: Your entire family should have a designated area to meet just in case you are separated during a tornado. Treat anyone who may be injured, but don't move anyone who is seriously injured unless doing so would protect them from further injury. Help any neighbors who may require assistance, but stay out of damaged buildings if possible. Leave immediately if you smell gas or chemical fumes.
  • Stay calm: Both before and after a tornado, it is easy and understandable to experience panic. However, being prepared and staying calm will increase your response time, ensure you make the right decisions, and often save lives.

Do's and Dont's

  • Don't stay in a car or mobile home during a tornado. You are safer outside in the lowest area.
  • Don't try to outrun a tornado in your car. They can change direction at any moment.
  • Don't take cover beneath a bridge or overpass.
  • Don't go outside to watch a tornado. Take cover immediately.
  • Don't open windows. If you heard you were supposed to open them, that's no longer the recommended safety protocol.
  • Do know the tornado plans of any schools or office buildings in which you spend time.
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