OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As spring temperatures move into Oklahoma, residents are encouraged to prepare for severe storms.
Officials say that although severe weather isn’t in the immediate forecast, you should have a plan in place.
Be sure you always have at least three ways to get information about the weather. Never rely only on outdoor warning sirens, which are designed to alert people who are outside and not to be heard inside your home during a noisy thunderstorm.
Also, you should know where you will take shelter during a severe thunderstorm or tornado and get there before storms come to the area. It’s not safe to drive during a storm, so don’t be caught in a deadly situation in your vehicle trying to get to safety.
Visit okc.gov/storms for more information about severe weather preparation from the Office of Emergency Management.
Have at least 3 ways to get weather information
Wherever you are during a severe weather threat, be sure to have at least three ways to get information about the weather.
At least one method should work without electric power, without batteries and without a cellular or wifi signal.
Many weather radios have hand-powered cranks for use if you don’t have power or batteries.
The Office of Emergency Management recommends people should shelter-in-place during tornado warnings. Oklahoma City does not have public storm shelters.
Shelter-in-place means to take shelter where you are and remain inside your home, workplace or nearby buildings.
If you don’t have an individual residential safe room or storm shelter, well-constructed homes and buildings provide life-saving protection from 98% of Oklahoma’s tornadoes.
Take shelter in a closet, interior hallway or other interior room with no windows on the lowest level of the house or building. Put on a helmet if you have one, and wear sturdy shoes in case you later have to walk through debris.
People who live in trailers or manufactured homes should have a plan to seek shelter in a well-constructed building nearby.
People who live on upper levels of apartment buildings should seek shelter with a neighbor in an apartment on the lowest level.
Plan ahead to be in a safe place before storms arrive. It’s a dangerous mistake to wait until a storm is near and then try to drive to safety.
Vehicles are among the most dangerous places to be during a tornado. Find a nearby building to shelter in if you are driving during a tornado warning. Never seek shelter underneath a bridge or overpass.
If you are stranded outside, lie down in a ditch or low-lying area away from your vehicle.
The best way to protect yourself from tornadoes at home is to install a safe room or below-ground storm shelter. Safe rooms and storm shelters designed and built to FEMA guidelines and ICC 500 standards will protect against the force of extreme winds up to 250 mph.
Hospitals, and many other public buildings, are not public storm shelters.
Clean out shelters and closets
Clean out your storm shelters and closets to make sure they are accessible and comfortable.
Shelters should be dusted and cleaned, and their entrances should be unobstructed. If you use a closet or interior room as a tornado shelter, make sure floor space is clear and blankets, pillows, helmets and other safety items are easily accessible.
Make sure the moving parts like door hinges, latches and rollers are properly working and you have performed any preventative maintenance.
If you spray your storm shelter or safe room for bugs and insects, make sure it is properly ventilated before vacuuming it or using it.
Make a plan, and build a kit
Every household should have an emergency supply kit, and plans for what to do in weather emergencies at every location where you spend lots of time – home, work, school, church, etc.
Visit okc.gov/prepare for tips on making a plan and building a kit.
Take shelter if you hear a siren
If you hear a siren, immediately take shelter and get more information about the storm.
OKC’s outdoor warning sirens sound in and near areas where the National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning, or where a spotter reports a tornado. There is no all-clear signal.
Oklahoma City tests its sirens at noon on Saturdays unless there’s a threat of inclement weather. It’s important to report malfunctioning sirens by calling (405) 231-2121.
People with disabilities and other access and functional needs should use OKC’s Accessible Hazard Alert System to receive alerts in American Sign Language and English voice and text.
Register your storm shelter
If you have a storm shelter that is not registered with the City, do so by registering it online at this link or calling the City’s Action Center at (405) 297-2535 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays.
Disasters and pets
Create a plan that includes your pets and make sure everyone in the home is aware of individual expectations, communication and meeting locations.
Always keep a collar and tag on pets. Include your name, phone number and email on the tag and write it with permanent ink on the inside of the collar. We also recommend a form of permanent identification such as a microchip or tattoo for all animals.
Create a disaster bag for your pet. It should include a copy of your pet’s medical records, a photo of your pet, copies of your pet’s identifications, food, water, medications, leash, bowls, bedding, litter/box and a carrier to transport your pet.
Start a buddy system with your neighbors to check on each other’s pets if you are not home after a disaster.
Make sure your pet is free of disease and up-to-date on vaccinations so it will be accepted into a facility if necessary.
Know the phone number and address of the OKC Animal Welfare shelter so you can find out about temporary evacuation locations for your pet or know where to go if you lost your pet during a disaster. OKC Animal Welfare is at 2811 SE 29th Street and can be reached at (405) 297-3100.
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