Be prepared

The spring season is coming to an end quickly, and we are heading into summer. But for those of us living in Kansas, this time of year can be difficult to get through if Mother Nature isn’t cooperating. As the seasons change and temperatures fluctuate, our chance of severe weather increases significantly.

Last week was rough for Northeastern Kansas with multiple tornados, high winds and a lot of rain affecting our area. These types of weather systems affect us every year, but some of us still forget to take the necessary precautions we need to in order to prepare for these times.

I am the person who likes thunderstorms but when they turn severe, I get nervous. To say the least, my husband would describe me as someone who gets “a little stressed out” during severe weather. So to better prepare myself and calm my own nerves, I have an app on my phone that the Red Cross created, which monitors severe weather and it is called Tornado. And the best part is…it’s free.

Not only does it alert you when you are in a tornado watch or warning, it will monitor all weather conditions for your current and custom locations. So, if you want to monitor the weather in Denver, Colo., because you have family there, it will do just that and it will alert you in case of severe weather in each of these locations.

In addition to this app the Red Cross provides, they also have these tips for tornado safety.

Prepare for a Tornado

  • During any storm, listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed about tornado watches and warnings.
  • Know your community’s warning system. Communities have different ways of warning residents about tornados, with many having sirens intended for outdoor warning purposes.
  • Pick a safe room in your home where household members and pets may gather during a tornado. This should be a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
  • Practice periodic tornado drills so everyone knows what to do if a tornado is approaching.
  • Consider having your safe room reinforced. Plans for reinforcing an interior room to provide better protection can be found on the FEMA website.
  • Prepare for high winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees.
  • Move or secure lawn furniture, trashcans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.
  • Watch for tornado warning signs such as dark or often greenish clouds, a wall cloud – an isolated lowering of the base of a thunderstorm – and large hail.
  • Pack a go bag, including water, food, basic first aid, tools, clothing and bedding, and personal items such as medical prescriptions.

If a Tornado Strikes

  • The safest place to be is an underground shelter, basement or safe room.
  • If no underground shelter or safe room is available, a small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is the safest alternative.
  • Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes or other severe winds.
  • Do not seek shelter in a hallway or bathroom of a mobile home.
  • Do not wait until you see the tornado.
  • If flying debris occurs while driving, pull over and park and decide from there what you need to do, such as: stay in the car with your seatbelt on and put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible or if you can safely get noticeably lower than the roadway, exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.

Hopefully, these tips will help you and your family stay safe for the remainder of the severe weather season. If anything, I strongly recommend the app Tornado to at least warn you of potential severe weather.

Stay safe!


Heather Stewart288 Posts

Heather Stewart is a reporter for The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2015. She specializes in court and sports reporting, as well as photography. Heather is a 2011 Kansas State University graduate with a degree in psychology. She lives in Sabetha with her husband.


  • Elizabeth Davis Reply

    May 28, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    Is it safe to go under a bridge during a tornadoes. Or is that still dangerous.

    • The Sabetha Herald Reply

      June 3, 2016 at 8:18 am

      According to it is still dangerous to seek shelter under a bridge, because it can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.

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