Oliver: Ready for storm season? Here are some tips

I might have a case of intentional amnesia, if such a thing exists.

Every spring, I’m so eager for the green grass and flowers that I forget about the thing about spring and summer I fear the most: the loud, powerful and destructive storms.

And worst of all – tornadoes.

Last year was a doozy in that department all across the country. A tornado even destroyed the town in Kentucky where friends of mine live.

Forgive me if I’m even a bit jumpier than most about bad weather.

I’ve been this way for years. A fellow copy editor years ago used to mockingly ask whether I wanted to hide under my desk every time there was a clap of thunder.

Suffice it to say, she wasn’t entirely wrong.

So bear with me if I feel the need to share some reminders as the threat of strong storms increases. 

Here are a few more tornado season tips from the National Weather Service (www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/safety.html):

• At home, practice a family tornado drill at least once a year.

• Store protective coverings (e.g., mattress, sleeping bags, thick blankets, etc.) in or next to your shelter space.

• Avoid windows.

• Get in the basement or under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag.

• Know where very heavy objects (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) rest on the floor above and do not go under them.

• If you don’t have a basement, go to the lowest floor and into an interior room. A closet or bathroom is recommended.

• If you’re in a vehicle, remember they are easily tossed and destroyed by tornadoes. Your best bet is to take shelter in a sturdy building. If that’s not possible, lie flat in a low spot or ditch as far from the road as possible to avoid flying vehicles. Do not park under a bridge or underpass.

Another good way to be prepared is to have a NOAA weather radio. This is particularly important for those who live where they cannot hear their town’s tornado sirens.

Among the things the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards system broadcasts are tornado and flood warnings, Amber Alerts and chemical spill messages. You can even get routine weather forecasts.

The radios can be found at many electronics stores, and cost from $20 to $200, depending on the model and options. The National Weather Service recommends that you get one with a battery backup and a tone-alert feature that automatically sounds when a watch or warning is issued.

If you’d like to learn more about the radios, visit NOAA’s weather radio page at www.crh.noaa.gov/lot/?n=nwr.

The time to prepare is now, before something happens.

All of this, of course, probably won’t make me less nervous. 

So if you need to find me, I just might be the one hiding under the desk. 

• Joan Oliver is the assistant news editor for the Northwest Herald. She can be reached at 815-526-4552 or by email at joliver@shawmedia.com.

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