OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The City of OKC is offering some tips to help prepare for tornadoes in Oklahoma City.

According to the City of OKC, having a plan and communicating effectively can help protect your family and friends in a severe weather situation.

Watch for weather alerts

Officials say residents should have multiple ways of receiving weather information.

At least one of those ways should be accessible without power, without batteries and without a wifi or cellular signal. That method could be a weather radio with a hand-powered crank.

You can refer to your weather radio, local news organization or official social media accounts for emergency weather information.

Outdoor warning sirens

City officials say Oklahoma City has 182 outdoor warning sirens.

When a tornado warning is issued, the National Weather Service will label a map with polygons showing where the storm is and where it may be going. The City then sounds the sirens in the affected areas, or sectors. This way, sirens in areas that are not affected will not activate.

The sirens are normally loud enough to be heard indoors, but their main purpose is to warn people outdoors that a severe weather threat is close by.

According to the City of OKC:

  • If you hear a siren, take shelter immediately and get more information about the storm.
  • OKC’s outdoor warning sirens sound in and near areas where the National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning or there has been a credible report of a tornado.
  • There is no all-clear signal.
  • When the sirens stop, it does not indicate the threat of a tornado has passed.
  • Sirens are activated as new or additional threats are detected.
  • Even if you normally can hear a siren inside your home, you may not during a noisy thunderstorm because of wind and rain.

The City’s sirens are tested on Saturdays at noon, unless there is a threat of severe weather. Anyone who can normally hear a siren but does not during Saturday’s test should contact the Action Center at action.center@okc.gov.

Tornado Safety

According to the City:

  • Get inside a well-constructed building and seek shelter if a tornado is nearby. Flying debris is the greatest danger.
  • Vehicles and manufactured homes are the most dangerous places to be in a tornado. Many deaths are attributable to being inside a vehicle or manufactured home when a tornado strikes.
  • If you’re driving when a tornado threat is nearby, get to the closest well-constructed building to take shelter. Never attempt to outrun a tornado by driving.
  • The safest place to be is a storm shelter built to FEMA guidelines and ICC 500 standards or a basement.
  • If there’s no storm shelter, get to the innermost room, hallway or closet on the lowest level of the building. Put as many walls between you and the outside as possible and stay away from windows and doors. Most houses provide life-saving protection from 98 percent of tornadoes in Oklahoma. 
  • Wear a helmet and/or use pillows, cushions and thick blankets for additional protection. Wear sturdy shoes that will protect your feet if you have to walk through debris.
  • If you have a storm shelter at your home, register it with the City of OKC so emergency crews know where to find you in a disaster.
  • Oklahoma City doesn’t have public tornado shelters. 

The City says the Storm Shelter Registry is free and voluntary service to ensure police, fire and emergency responders know where to find you. If you do not have access to the internet, call the Action Center at 405-297-2535.

Make a plan & build a kit

Officials say to talk to your family about severe weather and to create a plan in case you’re not with your loved ones when it strikes. It is important to plan communication as well as how and where you’ll reconnect.

You can visit Ready.gov to use their form to help develop a Family Emergency Communication plan.

“You can’t overcommunicate with your family and friends.” the City says.

City officials also advise to create an emergency supply kit that will help you survive for a couple of days after a disaster. It is recommended to build a kit that can last you and your family for 72 hours that includes items like medicine, water, an extra cell phone battery, a weather radio, flashlight with extra batteries, first aid kit, infant formula and diapers and pet food.

It may also be a good idea to visit your child’s school to learn about their tornado plan and to develop a plan for your pets, too.

Self-deployment & volunteers

People are advised to not self-deploy themselves in times of disaster as it can make a difficult situation more complex. The City asks that you wait until volunteers have been requested.

Those wishing to volunteer during or after a disaster can visit the Oklahoma Voluntary Organization Active in Disaster’s website at okvoad.org. It is recommended to be affiliated with an organization before severe weather strikes to be as productive as possible.

How you can help

Making cash donations to reputable organizations responding to the disaster is the best way to support those affected, according to the City.

Cash donations allow organizations and survivors to buy the supplies they need. Buying supplies locally also helps and keeps tax revenues in the community.

For more information about severe weather preparation, visit okc.gov.