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Fort Bend County Emergency Management
Wednesday February 24th, 2010 :: 05:11 p.m. CST


Learn the Signs, Take Action, and Prepare for Tornadoes Severe Weather Awareness Week - Feb 24, 2010

Emergency Management Office Urges Citizens to Learn the Signs, Take Action, and Prepare for Tornadoes

Tornado and lightening Tornadoes happen most often in spring and early summer. They often strike in the late afternoon or early evening when temperatures are highest. But they can happen anywhere – any time of day – any season of the year.

When storms approach, monitor TV, radio and NOAA weather radio broadcasts. Keep a battery-powered radio for emergencies.

A Tornado Watch is issued when a severe weather system may spawn tornadoes. It means watch the sky. A TORNADO WARNING lasts for one hour or less and it means take action right now. A tornado is on the ground or about to be on the ground.

Tornado signs can include:

* A strong, persistent, rotating movement in the clouds
* A greenish black or coal black sky in daytime
* Small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level at night – could mean power lines snapped by heavy wind
* Sudden hail or intense rain – followed by a dead calm or a rapid shift in the winds
* A loud, continuous roar or rumble
* Debris swirling up into the sky in a circular motion

Tornado Tips

* Remember, a tornado that does not look like it is moving to the left or right may be moving toward you.
* When a tornado is sighted, get low and stay low.
* Never try to outrun a tornado in a vehicle. If you see a tornado, get out of the car. Take shelter in a ditch, ravine or culvert. Be alert to potential flooding.
* Do not seek shelter beneath an overpass. High winds and flying debris are likely to cause injuries.
* If you are in a mobile home, get out immediately. Walk or run to the nearest sturdy building – or take shelter in a ditch or ravine. If you are outside, lie flat and cover your head to protect yourself from flying debris.
* Avoid any area with a wide, unsupported roof. That includes auditoriums, cafeterias, gymnasiums, theaters or central courts at malls. Go to interior rooms with no windows.
* Most tornado fatalities result from injuries to the head or neck from flying debris. Protect yourself with thick padding such as blankets or mattresses – or quickly get under a sturdy piece of furniture – a table, bench or church pew.
* If you are in an office, hospital or nursing home, go to the lowest floor. Stay away from windows. Avoid elevators. Find shelter in a stairwell, hallway, storage closet or bathroom.
* At school, follow the drill. Take shelter in an inside room, hallway, storage closet or stairwell. Avoid windows or any area with large amounts of glass.
* At home, take shelter in a room without windows on the lowest floor – a bathroom, hallway, closet or stairwell.
* If you are outside and there is no sturdy building nearby, take shelter in a low-lying area. Keep an eye out for flooding.

Prepare, plan and practice before a tornado hits

* Have a family tornado plan. Ask about tornado plans in offices, stores or other areas you visit frequently. Learn the locations of interior shelters.
* Know where to shelter in the house. Store protective materials – such as blankets or sleeping bags – in the shelter.
* Regularly practice a family tornado drill.
* In case family members are separated, plan a place to call to let others know you are safe. Plan a place to meet if you are cut off from your neighborhood.
* Monitor TV and radio broadcasts and NOAA weather radio. Listen for warnings. Listen to instructions from local officials.
* Remember, practice the plan. Have a place to call and a place to meet.

After the storm

* Keep your family or group together and wait for emergency personnel.
* Stay calm. Continue to monitor broadcasts. Listen for instructions from local officials or emergency personnel.
* Stay away from power lines or puddles with wires in them. They may still be hot.
* Watch your step to avoid dangerous debris, sharp objects, nails or broken glass
* Damaged structures may collapse at any moment. Stay out!
* Do not use matches or lighters. Fuel tanks or natural gas tanks may be leaking.

Fort Bend County Emergency Management
307 Fort St
Richmond, TX 77469

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 281-342-6185

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