Prepare for dangerous weather

It did not take long before spring reminded us all about the power of Mother Nature.

On Thursday, a category EF-0 tornado touched down in Edwardsburg, causing damage to homes, power lines and trees. Fortunately no one was killed, but the knowledge that a tornado was in our community is frightening.

And with spring just beginning, we can be sure that there is plenty more severe weather to come.

Every year people are killed or seriously injured because they didn’t hear or ignored severe thunderstorm warnings.

The National Weather Service provides the following advice for staying safe in severe weather:

• Listen to local news or NOAA Weather Radio for emergency updates. Watch for signs of a storm, like darkening skies, lightning flashes or increasing wind.

• If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning. If thunder roars, go indoors. Don’t wait for rain. Lightning can strike out of a clear blue sky. Learn more about lightning safety.

• Avoid electrical equipment and corded telephones. Cordless phones, cell phones and other wireless handheld devices are safe to use.

• Keep away from windows.

• If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends.

• If you are outside and cannot reach a safe building, avoid high ground; water; tall, isolated trees; and metal objects such as fences or bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are not safe.

• During any thunderstorm, listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed about tornado watches and warnings and check the Weather-Ready Nation tips.

• Know how your community sends warning. Some communities in tornado prone areas have sirens. Others depend on media and smart phones to alert residents to severe storms.

• Pick a tornado safe room in your home such as a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows. Make sure all members of your family know to go there. Don’t forget pets if time allows.

• Conduct a family tornado drill regularly so everyone knows what to do if a tornado is approaching.

• Consider having your safe room reinforced. You can find plans for reinforcing an interior room to provide better protection on the Federal Emergency Management Agency web site.

• Take CPR training so you can help someone hurt during a tornado.

• Include the phone number for your local power company in your cell phone so you can report outages.

• Have a family plan that includes an emergency meeting place and related information.

 

Opinions expressed are those of the editorial board consisting of Publisher Michael Caldwell and editors Ambrosia Neldon, Craig Haupert, Ted Yoakum and Scott Novak.

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