Safety in tornado aftermath

Monday, April 18, 2011

As we Iowans have learned, in the spring and summer months tornadoes can pop up at any time, without much warning, when severe weather conditions are ripe for their formation.

We've all been cautioned on what precautions to take when a tornado watch or warning has been issued. But the safest things to do after a tornado has struck are also critical:

*Continue to monitor your battery-powered radio or television for emergency information.

*Be careful when entering any structure that has been damaged.

*Wear sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeves, and gloves when handling or walking on or near debris.

*Be aware of hazards from exposed nails and broken glass.

*Do not touch downed power lines or objects in contact with downed lines. Report electrical hazards to the police and the utility company.

*Use battery-powered lanterns, if possible, rather than candles to light homes without electrical power. If you use candles, make sure they are in safe holders away from curtains, paper, wood, or other flammable items. Never leave a candle burning when you are out of the room.

*Hang up displaced telephone receivers that may have been knocked off by the tornado, but stay off the telephone, except to report an emergency.

*Cooperate fully with public safety officials.

*Respond to requests for volunteer assistance by police, fire fighters, emergency management, and relief organizations, but do not go into damaged areas unless assistance has been requested. Your presence could hamper relief efforts, and you could endanger yourself.

And remember, if a tornado "warning" is issued, it means that a tornado has actually been spotted, or is strongly indicated on radar, and it is time to go to a safe shelter immediately. If a tornado "watch" is issued for your area, it means that a tornado is possible.