Expert tips on tornado safety

Posted on: 3:42 pm, April 17, 2012, by and , updated on: 08:06pm, April 26, 2012


OKLAHOMA CITY — Nighttime storms and tornadoes are not only difficult to see, they are beyond frightening.

Many fear they will not hear the sirens in their town or that they will sleep through them.

Storms like the Woodward tornado prove we all need to be weather aware, no matter what time of day.

Michelann Ooten, Deputy Director of the Office of Emergency Management, said, “It’s all in planning and the more information you have the better you can plan.”

Ooten said when in your home, you should not rely on sirens.

She said, “Keep in mind, if you are in your home your windows are closed, most homes are well-insulated and you just aren’t going to be able to hear those outdoor warning systems.”

Weather radios are one of the best resources along with weather apps like 4Warn Me and phone and text alerts like those available at www.kfor.com/alerts.

Ooten said, “You need to have multiple systems out there that you are depending on.”

In the event of a tornado, your safest option is to get underground.

Storm shelters usually cost around $3,000 to $4,000, depending on the size.

The state sometimes offers rebates for Oklahomans; unfortunately, they aren’t offering any at this time.

But in the wake of the Woodward tornado, emergency officials are hoping to get more money for those grants.

Rep. Joe Dorman said, “Anything we can do to increase the odds of safety or reduce the potential for injury, we need to pursue that with legislation.”

Tornado safety is an issue Rep. Dorman is passionate about.

He authored a bill requiring mobile home parks, like the one hit in Woodward, to provide a shelter.

However, that measure died at the state capitol.

He said, “Every single bill we’ve seen go through here in recent years dealing with mobile home park safety has been defeated.”

Dorman said he’s not giving up on the idea just yet.

In the meantime, it’s up to every family to plan now for Oklahoma’s unpredictable weather.

While there are currently no grants available for shelters from the federal government, you can still apply at soonersafe.ok.gov because there will be more money in the future.

Emergency management officials said while it may be tempting to turn those weather radios off at night, resist the urge for your own safety.