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Tornadoes – What Your Kids Need To Know To Stay Safe

Tornado Damage
(Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Sick, that is the only way to describe how I felt watching the coverage yesterday of the massive tornadoes in Oklahoma. Could something this catastrophic happen in Acadiana?

Unfortunately the answer is yes. With school soon to be dismissing for Summer break many kids will be at home alone or with sitters. Would your kids know what to do if severe weather threatened while you were miles away at work?

Here are some basic tips to help them stay safe and give you peace of mind.

1: Pick A Safe Room In Your Home- You can make this designation well ahead of a storm situation. This room should be an interior room away from windows and doors. A closet or bathroom usually makes a great safe room during severe weather. It’s a good idea to bring a mattress,pillows or even a bike  helmet into this room to help protect the head.

2: Know The Difference Between a Watch and a Warning- They are two very different things and knowing the difference could save your life. A “watch” is designated when weather conditions over a broad area show favorable characteristics for the formation of tornadoes. This does NOT mean a tornado is imminent. It just means that you should be aware of changing weather conditions and be prepared to act quickly if the need arises.

A “warning” means that a tornado has been spotted or indicated by Doppler radar and there is imminent danger. Tornado warnings mean the time to move to a place of safety is now.

3: Stay Informed on Changing Conditions- Radio and TV do a great job of keeping people abreast of changing weather conditions. We suggest you have a battery operated radio handy in case of a loss of power. We also suggest that you download Radiopup for your smart phone. This application allows you to listen to local radio via your telephone. That way you always have the latest information in your hands.

4: What is A Safe Place: Mobile homes are not safe places to be during times of severe weather. We suggest that you and your family make plans well in advance of where you might find substantial shelter should the need arise. This might be a neighbors house or an office building, again choosing an interior room would be the safest.

Highway underpasses are NOT a safe place to take shelter on the open road. The funneling of wind between the overpass and the roadway creates an even more dangerous situation. If you are caught out in the open lie flat face down in a depression or ditch. Make sure you cover your head. Most injuries in tornadoes occur from flying debris, staying low and out of harms way is a must.

The American Red Cross has a great app for smartphones that not only offers more sound advice on staying safe during and after the storm but also is a quick and easy way for you to make a donation to disaster recovery.

We hope you will never need these suggestions but we do hope that you will take a moment to go over them with your children. A little preparation today could be the life saving difference of tomorrow.

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