Spring tornadoes are an important reminder to prepare

The Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department is offering suggestions for what to do before, during and after a tornado:

Before:
• Maintain an emergency kit or check list of emergency items to take with you.
• Develop a family communication plan in case your family is separated.
• Identify a safe shelter location. A basement is best, followed by interior rooms on the lowest level of the building away from windows. Mobile homes are often unsafe in a tornado – identify a neighbor’s house or public shelter where you can go if a tornado warning is issued.
• Obtain a NOAA Weather Radio to receive alerts about impending severe weather.
• Sign up for reverse telephone alerts for your county, and don’t forget to include your cell phone.
• Make sure you have sufficient insurance coverage – including flood insurance, which is separate from your homeowner’s policy.
• Photograph or video the contents of your home in case you need to file a claim.
• Store copies of your important documents in another location, such as a bank safe deposit box.
• Consider building a safe room inside your home.
During:
• Immediately go to your pre-identified safe shelter – there is no time to gather possessions.
• If possible, crouch under a sturdy piece of furniture, such as a table. Cover your head and neck with your hands and arms.
• If you are outside and no other shelter is available, get in a vehicle and drive to shelter if possible. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to outrun a tornado.
• If you must use a vehicle for shelter, keep your seatbelt on, cover your head and keep it below the window level.
• Do not use an overpass or bridge for shelter.
• If no other shelter is available, lie in a low spot and cover your head, but be alert for water filling the location.
After:
• Avoid downed power lines and leaking gas lines – report them to your utility company.
• Watch for broken glass, nails, and other sharp objects.
• Avoid damaged buildings until they are declared safe by officials.
• Notify your family that you are safe – phone lines may be down, so be prepared to send text messages.
• Check property for damage and contact your insurance company to file a claim, if necessary.

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