During Severe Weather Awareness Week in Iowa, the American Red Cross serving Greater Iowa urges residents to take steps now to stay safe when severe weather threatens.
"By preparing together for severe weather, we can make our families safer and our communities stronger," Leslie Schaffer, Regional Chief Executive said. "The Red Cross can help you and your family create a tornado preparedness plan now, before our community is threatened by severe weather."
As with any disaster, preparation can be the difference between life or death. The Red Cross recommends that individuals and families prepare for tornadoes by:
Downloading the free American Red Cross Tornado App: The app is available in English or Spanish and gives iPhone, iPad and Android smart phone and tablet users instant access to local and real-time information, so they know what to do before, during and after a tornado. The free app includes a high-pitched siren and "tornado warning!" alert that signals when a NOAA tornado warning has been issued. This feature allows users to make critical decisions and to take actions to help keep themselves and their loved ones safe even in the middle of the night. An "all clear!" alert lets users know when a tornado warning has expired or has been cancelled.
Creating and practicing a home tornado plan: Pick a "safe room" or uncluttered area without windows where family members and pets could seek shelter on the lowest floor possible: a basement, a center hallway, a bathroom or a closet. Putting as many walls between you and the outside provides additional protection.
Assembling an Emergency Preparedness Kit: Kits should contain a first aid kit and essential medications, foods that don't require cooking or refrigeration and manual can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries and other emergency items for the whole family.
Heeding storm warnings: A tornado watch means a tornado is possible in your area. When a tornado WARNING is issued, go to the safe room you picked to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects. If you are outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building. . If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head to the nearest building for safety. If you are outside and there are no buildings, lie flat in a low lying area or ditch and cover your head with your arms and hands.
Preparing for high winds: Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased and damaged limbs, and then strategically removing branches so that wind can blow through. Install permanent shutters on your windows and add protection to the outside areas of sliding glass doors. Strengthen garage doors and unreinforced masonry. Move or secure lawn furniture, outdoor decorations or ornaments, trash cans, hanging plants and anything else that can be picked up by wind and become a projectile.
"If a tornado is threatening your area, listen for alerts and warnings, grab your emergency preparedness kit and head to your designated safe area," Schaffer added. "Be prepared to evacuate if necessary."
The Tornado App, along with other apps, can be found in the Apply App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/mobileapps. People can go to redcross.org/tornado for more safety tips
For more information on tornado preparedness, contact the American Red Cross serving Greater Iowa at 515-243-7681, visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800 RED CROSS