GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. -- KARE 11 meteorologist Belinda Jensen and Minnesota Public Radio News meteorologist Paul Huttner teamed up to compile these 11 severe weather safety tips.
1) Practice Situational Awareness: Actively stay aware on days when severe weather is possible. Monitor latest National Weather Service severe weather watches and warnings. Communicate possible severe weather threats with family members and others. Be ready if a warning is issued for your location.
2) Plan Ahead: Have a plan before severe weather hits. Where will you take shelter during a tornado in your home or at work? The safest location is usually below ground (basement) or in the interior of homes. Put as many walls between you and the tornado as possible. An interior closet or bathroom may be the safest place.
3) Know Your County: At home, on the road, or at the lake, know what county you're in. Warnings are issued by county.
4) Get a NOAA Weather Radio: Keep it tuned and running with fresh batteries. You can buy a good weather radio that will wake you with a tone alert when a warning is issued for your location for under $50 at most electronics stores. You can program it to receive warnings for your county.
5) Have Multiple Safety Nets: Radio, TV, NOAA Weather radio, Smartphone apps, friends and neighbors can all be
life-saving sources of severe weather information. Sirens are designed for outdoor warning and should be considered a last resort.
6) Know your sirens: On the first Wednesday of the month, most areas sound sirens at 1pm. Note what they sound like where you live, where you work, and where your kids go to school. These sirens are designed to alert you of a potential danger. This allows you to quickly move into a safe location and seek further information. They are not designed to be heard indoors.
7.) Take cover first, and then learn more: One of the lessons from the deadly Joplin, MO tornado is that people ignored multiple warning signals while they sought out confirmation of a tornado. Take cover first, and then seek out additional information.
8.) Consider wearing a tornado helmet: It may sound silly, but the majority of tornado deaths and severe injuries are caused by head trauma from flying debris. Many doctors now say wearing a helmet, any helmet, in a tornado can save your life. Keep those old hockey, baseball, football, and ski helmets in the basement where you can put them on quickly in safe shelter. Keep one in your car? Not a bad idea.
9.) Abandon mobile homes in tornadoes: Locate in advance the nearest safe shelter if you live in a mobile home.
10.) Know your watches and warnings: A watch is issued by the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. A watch means that severe weather is possible during the next few hours. A warning pinpoints a severe storm happening now and gives you crucial information like wind strength and hail size.
11.) Be smart in your car: Drivers and passengers are among those most at risk in a tornado. Some evidence suggests it may be safer to stay in your car if you are caught in the open in a tornado. If you can get to safe indoor shelter, then abandon your car. If not, you may be safer in your car. Crouch down on the floor of your car away from the windows if possible.