The Pryor Times

April 5, 2014

Be prepared: Tornado season is here

Staff Writer
Cydney Baron

PRYOR, OK — Those living in tornado alley often consider themselves experts on twisters.

But Mayes County Emergency Management says there are life saving measures people often forget.

“Prior to a tornado, look for a dark, greenish colored sky, large hail, or dark, low-lying clouds,” said MCEM Director Johnny Janzen.

Janzen said when it comes time to take cover, the plan differs depending where you are when the storm hits.

“If you are in a stable structure, like a house, church or business stay put. Head to the pre-determined safe room,” said Janzen, adding that this could be a certified safe room, cellar, basement, or interior closet or hallway.

“If you're in a vehicle, evacuate the vehicle and go to the lowest floor of a nearby building,” Janzen said. “If no buildings are available lie down in a nearby ditch or other low area.”

Janzen said overpasses and bridges should be avoided.

“Preparation is key, so having a plan in place will prevent you from wasting precious life-saving moments figuring out what to do,” said MCEM Deputy Director Mike Dunham. “Families should have a plan they have practiced with the entire family, so that everyone knows what to do should the time come.”

Dunham said part of the preparedness plan should include stashing extra supplies.

“Extra blankets and pillows can protect you from flying debris, but you shouldn't have to waste time gathering them up,” said Dunham.

The American Red Cross suggests having an emergency kit that includes:  one gallon of water per person for at least three days, non-perishable food, first-aid supplies, three days of prescription medications, clothing and bedding, emergency tools, special items such as copies of important family documents, insurance papers and deed to your house, and sanitation supplies.

“It is definitely better to be prepared and not need it, than to not be prepared and need it,” said Mark Ogle, Director  American Red Cross Rogers/Mayes/Wagoner County Service Centers. “It is important to assemble a disaster supply kit for your home and for your office.”

Ogle said the kits should also include portable radios with batteries, snacks and flashlights.

MCEM emphasizes the value of communication.

“Listen to your local news or a NOOA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminis-tration) weather radio to ensure you have current information,” said Janzen. “Also, understand the local outdoor warning system. Mayes County has a system of outdoor warning sirens, but are only meant to alert those individuals who are outdoors at the time they are activated.”

Janzen said rather than counting on an outdoor alert you inside your home, be sure you are receiving weather alerts on your smart phone or tablet.