JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Advance planning and quick response is the key to saving lives when confronted with tornadoes.
Severe storms that often spawn tornadoes can approach quickly, and there may be only a short time to make a life-or-death decision.
March is Severe Weather Preparedness Month. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) encourages Missourians to prepare ahead for the worst.
"We remind all Missouri residents that each household needs to have a disaster preparedness plan," said FEMA's Tom Hall, federal coordinating officer for disaster operations in Missouri. "Planning and practicing specifically how and where you will take shelter in the event a tornado could be a matter of survival."
Tornadoes are nature's most violent storms. They can appear suddenly without warning and can be invisible until dust and debris are picked up or a funnel cloud appears.
Heed Severe Weather Warnings issued by the National Weather Service. Knowing what to look for and where to seek shelter could make a difference.
- Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It's not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.
- Take shelter in a building with a strong foundation if a tornado approaches while you are away from home. If in a car and shelter is not available, lie in a ditch or low-lying area.
- Mobile homes are vulnerable to overturn if precautions are not taken to tie down the unit.
Seek shelter in a room on a lower floor with no windows as the safe-haven. Interior restrooms also make good shelters.
Severe Weather Preparedness Month is a good time to come up with or revisit plans to respond and recover during times of disaster. There are some basic items individuals and families will need to gather when developing disaster preparedness plans. Assemble an emergency kit that should include:
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Portable, battery operated radio
- First aid kit
- Nonperishable foods, water supply
- Manual can opener
- Bedding, pillows
- Sturdy shoes, change of clothes
For more information on tornadoes, preparing shelters and emergency kits, visit the FEMA web site at www.fema.gov, click on Quick Links to access the FEMA Library.
FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation, to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.