Safety Tips to Help Survive Deadly South Dakota Tornadoes
Welcome to summer! I must have slept through spring, oh wait, we didn't have one this year. Most years we have a cup of coffee with spring here in South Dakota, but this year, we even got gypped out of that.
Now that the month of June has arrived, so has the official start of tornado season here in the state.
Here in the Midwest peak tornado season typically starts in mid-June and runs through July. But as you know, tornados can and do often happen in a variety of different months here in South Dakota. The month of May, for instance, has been an especially busy one for tornadic activity in South Dakota throughout the years. One needs to look no further than May 30th of 1998 and the deadly Spencer, South Dakota tornado that occurred that year. 150 people were injured, and six people lost their lives as a result of the F-4 tornado that hit that small town 50 miles west of Sioux Falls.
Living in South Dakota it never hurts to be prepared for a tornado. Extremely hot and humid days like the ones we've been experiencing lately, you know the kind, where the air is so thick you can cut it with a dull butter knife. Those types of days always seem to conjure up the perfect conditions for the possibility of tornadic activity in my mind.
Which prompts the question, what should you do if a tornado warning has been issued?
When you hear the outdoor warning sirens go off, it generally means the National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning, and the threat of severe weather is imminent. Meaning you and your family need to seek shelter immediately and remain there until the threat of severe weather has passed.
The city of Sioux Falls has put together a tornado safety guide for residents to follow. Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind.
Where are the best places to seek shelter in the event of a tornado?
If you're in your home, go to the basement or a small interior room or hallway on the lowest possible level of the structure. Get under something sturdy such as a staircase if possible. Cover yourself with a blanket if one is available. Avoid corners. Stay away from windows and DO NOT open the windows in your home.
If you live in a mobile home, leave it immediately if possible, and attempt to find a substantial shelter. If there are reports of tornadic activity in your area, it's important to plan ahead should you reside in a mobile home. Think about finding an alternate place to take shelter prior to a warning being issued. Remember, that tornadoes can occur with little advance warning.
If you're in a school, mall, or public place, go to the pre-designated shelter area in the structure. Again, stay away from windows and areas that contain a lot of glass.
If you're driving in your car once a tornado warning has been issued, remember that vehicles are not a safe place to be during a tornado. (Don't attempt to try a Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton from the motion picture Twister and go chasing after it in your truck.) Your best bet is to look for a sturdy building nearby to take shelter. If one is unavailable, abandon your car, and lie flat in a low-lying area like a ditch, with your hands covering your head to help protect yourself.
The bottom line, during a tornado, time is of the essence. That is why it's absolutely vital to have a safety plan in place for you and your family and follow it to the letter every time severe weather breaks out.
When severe weather events happen, it's crucial that you monitor local radio and television stations, or utilize a NOAA weather radio should you have one for critical information that can help save your life.
Source: Sioux Falls.org
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