16 minutes …

When sirens sound and you see a tornado warning come across your cell phone, computer, TV, or hear it on a weather radio or local radio station, you need to act immediately. This is not the time to think about and come up with a plan. If you do not have a plan at home, at work, at daycare, etc. NOW is the time to get a plan together and make sure everyone knows it. You should not be standing thinking “what should I do” during a warning. Take shelter immediately! The media is reporting that Norman, Okla., had a 16-minute warning. Think about where you are during your normal 24-hour schedule.

Let’s take a look at 16 minutes.

Could you take shelter in that amount of time during a normal day or night? Would those around you know what to do? Does your babysitter know what to do when you are gone? If you had less than 16 minutes could you make it? How much of that 16 minute period would you spend looking out windows or going outside? Do you call or text someone to see what they are going to do? Do you figure that nothing is really going to happen and just ignore it? Do you begin to get stuff together that you think you want to take with you to the shelter area? What in the world should you take? Where are your family members? Are they all safe? Where is the family pet? Are you taking it to the shelter with you? Are the kids outside or in their rooms? Did they hear the sirens or get the warning? Do they know what to do? (How much of your 16 minutes are now gone?)

OK, grab everyone and the dog and head for the basement. Where are you supposed to go and what do you do once you get down there? What if there is no basement, what do you do? In an apartment building where do you go? What about if you are in a car or in a trailer home or camper? What are you going to do? Where should you go? (Clock’s ticking)

OK, let’s get under the stairway in the basement. Let’s get in a small interior room on the lowest level in an apartment building or in a building with no basement. Let’s find a sturdy building along the road and get out of the car and shelter there if you are on the road. You have to LEAVE a camper or a trailer home. Go to a designated shelter area or lie down in a ravine or ditch or crawl in a culvert. If you are in a car, you need to get out and take shelter in a ditch, etc. if there are no buildings. (Some sources now say stay in your car with your seatbelt on. Have you seen the cars in the footage of Oklahoma?)

How do you know when it is safe to leave your safe area? Will another siren sound an “all-clear”? NO! Sirens sound to provide warning, never used for an all-clear. When you seen the warning come across the TV or your cell phone or computer, it told you when the event should be over. It said the tornado warning was in effect until a certain time. More sirens mean more warnings.

Please be safe! If you need answers to any questions that this may have brought up to you, call or email me. I will help you determine what you need to do to be safe. Don’t let 16 minutes mean a difference between a life and death.