Severe Weather Preparedness Week: Tornado Wednesday

Severe Weather Awareness Week is March 4-8, 2024. Salina311 will be presenting a series of articles to inform the public about those involved at the Saline County Department of Emergency Management, as well as tips on how to be prepared for all forms of severe weather.

Severe Weather Awareness Week, spanning from March 4th to 8th, is currently in full swing, aiming to educate the public on the importance of preparedness in the face of severe weather. Annually recognized by the National Weather Service during the first week of March, this initiative sheds light on the potential dangers posed by severe weather conditions, emphasizing the need for vigilance and readiness.

Wednesday, March 6th, marks Tornado Wednesday. Saline County Emergency Management, entrusted with ensuring the county's resilience against natural and man-made emergencies, stresses the crucial importance of understanding the threats tornadoes present and taking necessary precautions. Salina has a history marked by notable tornado events, including the impactful occurrences of April 2012 and even 1969, which struck the south side of Salina.

Being mindful of one's surroundings and knowing how to respond during a tornado is paramount. While seeking shelter in a basement offers optimal protection, those without this option should prioritize finding an interior room away from windows. If you're in a mobile home, knowing where the community tornado shelter is and how long it takes to get there safely is important. Safety considerations extend beyond the home to various settings such as driving, outdoor activities, and public spaces like schools and workplaces.

In the event of a tornado, swift action is imperative. Having emergency supplies on hand, like food and water, can be crucial in the event of an extended shelter stay. For those without basements, seeking refuge in the most internal room is recommended. Dispel the myth of opening windows and doors for safetyโ€”this practice offers no real protection.

For individuals caught driving during a tornado, seeking the nearest shelter is advised. If shelter isn't accessible, remaining in the vehicle with a seat belt fastened and crouching on the floor provides the best chance of safety. Remember, staying under an overpass is not a safe option.

Public buildings and schools should have well-defined evacuation plans and designated tornado shelters. Families should familiarize themselves with these plans and follow official instructions during severe weather events.

Understanding the distinction between weather watches and warnings is essential. A watch indicates the potential for severe weather, while a warning signifies imminent danger.

Participation in tornado drills, including the statewide tornado drill scheduled for Wednesday, March 6th at 11 am, is strongly encouraged for all members of the community, including children in daycare, home school, and college. Parents should engage in conversations with their children about severe weather threats well in advance.

The Adopt a Siren program, featuring 19 sirens in Saline County, aims to educate the youth on severe weather safety. Equipped with warning lights and solar panel backups, these sirens serve as a vital outdoor warning system. However, individuals indoors should rely on weather apps, local news stations, and weather radios for alerts.

Tornadoes pose a risk throughout the year, with heightened activity typically occurring in April, May, and June. Known as Tornado Alley, states such as Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas are more susceptible to tornadoes.

In summary, Tornado Safety Day serves as a reminder to prioritize preparedness and awareness in the face of tornado threats, with tornadoes rated on the Enhanced Fujita scale from 0 to 5, reaching winds of 300 mph.

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