Tornado season right around corner

Each year approximately 1,000 tornadoes touch down in the U.S. Only a small percentage actually strike occupied buildings, but every year a number of people are killed or injured. There is a very small chance a tornado will strike a building you are in however, you can greatly reduce the chance of injury from a tornado strike if you are prepared.

• Preparing yourself for catastrophe: One vital step in preparing for a tornado is to designate a room inside your home to shelter; an interior room or hallway is best and ensure an emergency kit is available. When weather appears threatening or a Severe Weather Watch is announced, listen to your local radio and TV stations for updates on storm information. On Cannon AFB, the computer pop-ups and secondary crash net notify personnel of severe weather watches. Sirens and Giant Voice notify of warnings. You can also tune in to the On-base Commander’s Access Channel (channel 14) and off-base local radio and television stations for immediate weather information.

Watches and warnings, what do they mean?

• A tornado watch means conditions are right for a tornado to develop.

• A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted by weather radar or spotters and may be headed for your area (proceed to inner most room/hallway away from doors and windows)

Some tell-tale signs that a tornado is approaching are:

• Strong persistent rotation in the cloud base

• Hail or heavy rain followed by dead calm or a fast intense wind shift

• Loud continuous roar or rumble, similar to the sound of a freight train

• Sky turning a greenish black color

When a tornado warning is issued, seek shelter immediately.

During tornado events: If in large buildings, such as department stores, or gymnasiums, avoid large, poorly supported roof areas. Go to the basement or to an inner hallway on the lowest floor. Stay away from doors and windows.

Do not open windows and doors. Persons attempting to open or close windows and doors in advance of a tornado are subjecting themselves to the risk of injury or death. Opening windows does not reduce the chances of a tornado damaging your home.

Do not stay in a trailer or mobile home if a tornado is approaching. Take cover in a sturdy structure (possibly a neighbor’s house), ditch or depression.

Do not drive. You are safer in a building than in a car.

If you are outside in open country, lie flat in the nearest depression such as a ditch, culvert or ravine and cover your head with your arms. If heavy rains follow the tornado, flash flooding could occur in low-lying areas. Immediately after the tornado passes, exit the ditch, culvert, or ravine and seek other shelter.

• Sheltering: There are four different types of sheltering all individuals should know about and be prepared to implement. Knowing what type of sheltering you need to take will minimize your exposure to hazards and may save your life. The four types of sheltering are sheltering for a natural disaster, shelter-in-place, remain-in-place and lockdown.

Sheltering for a natural disaster: Notification of a tornado warning will be announced by base sirens, giant voice and computer pop-up messages. Individuals must get to the inner most room or hallway on the lowest floor of their facility and stay there until the all clear is given. The facility should be a substantial structure should be free of windows and exterior doors. If your facility is a trailer or temporary facility you should evacuate and get to a hardened facility.