There are many steps you can take to prepare for a potential severe thunderstorm or tornado in our community. Follow a few of these steps from the American Red Cross and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and make yourself aware and informed.
First: Make an emergency kit for your home. This would include flashlight with extra batteries, a battery-operated radio (NOAA weather radio, if possible), non-perishable food items, first aid supplies, water (one gallon per person per day for a two-week supply), medications, family emergency contact information, blankets, etc.
Second: Have a plan. Every thunderstorm produces lightning which kills more people each year than tornadoes or hurricanes. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough for a lightning strike. The safest place in your home during a thunderstorm is away from windows, skylights and glass doors that could be broken by strong winds or hail. The National Weather service recommends staying indoors for at least 30 minutes following the last clap of thunder heard. If you are outside during a thunderstorm, avoid higher ground, water, tall trees, and metal objects. The best shelter from a tornado is in an underground shelter or in a room or hallway with no windows.
Third: Stay informed. The following weather signs may mean that a tornado is approaching: a dark or green-colored sky; a large dark low-lying cloud; large hail; or a loud roar that sounds like a freight train. Listen to the radio for updates and know each alarm siren in your community and what it stands for. The tornado warning sirens make a long, continuous, loud sound and sound for three minutes followed by seven minutes of silence. A warning indicates a tornado has been sighted by ground observers or has appeared on radar within Poweshiek County. Please note: sirens are tested at 9:00 a.m. each Thursday during the tornado season, usually April through November.
Register for FREE Severe Weather Alerts and notices of other emergencies to be sent to your cell phone, smartphone or computer by the National Weather Service. For Poweshiek County alerts, click HERE. Local television station KCCI – channel 8 is offering a free Tornado application for download to iPhones which will soon be made available for Android as well.