Although not as widely-known as the famous Great Plains tornado alley, Tennessee sits in the middle of what is known as “Dixie Alley”, which statistically claims more lives annually than tornado alley. Although we can’t prevent tornadoes, we can help to lower the number of injuries and fatalities.
Before the Storm
• Charge cell phones and other electronics. When a storm hits, power outages are possible. These can leave you without television, radio, and other life-saving means of gathering information. Cell phones and laptops allow you to stream live newscasts, check the latest warnings, and much more.
• Move vehicles into a garage or carport. Hail and debris damage to your vehicle can cost you a pretty penny, so it is a good idea to try to move them under a covering of some sort to minimize damage.
• Assure that you have a working weather radio. Another way to receive warnings during your sleep or during a power outage is a weather radio. These will sound an alarm the instant that the National Weather Service issues a bulletin for your county. These are programmable to allow you to pick individual counties and alerts. We highly recommend the Midland WR-120, available at Walmart for $30-a small price for a tool that can save your life.
• Know how you are going to get your alerts. Know all of the ways that you can receive weather alerts before the storms hit. TV, weather radio, mobile apps, websites, and outdoor warning sirens are all great tools, but you should at least have two in case one of them fails. In addition, remember that outdoor warning sirens are meant for just that…outdoors. Don’t rely on them if you are inside; however, they can be a great tool in the event that you are outside and away from your TV or phone.
• Become familiar with the different alert bulletins. During severe weather, the National Weather Service issues many different types of alerts. A Severe Thunderstorm Watch means that severe thunderstorms with damaging winds and large hail are possible within the next few hours. A Severe Thunderstorm Warning means that a storm with damaging winds and large hail is imminent in your area and you should cease outdoor activities. A Tornado Watch means that storms with damaging winds, large hail, and tornadoes are possible within the next few hours. A Tornado Warning means that a tornado has either been sighted or detected by radar, and is imminent in your area. Seek shelter immediately.
• Prepare an emergency kit. It is always a good idea to have a stocked emergency kit in your safe place. A few ideas of good things to include in the kit are a flashlight, battery-powered radio, water, and extra batteries. If you have children, it may be a good idea to stock coloring books and other things to keep them occupied.
When a Tornado Warning is issued
• Go to the lowest floor of your building and seek shelter in the most interior, windowless room.
• Put on your shoes.
• If available, grab a motorcycle or bicycle helmet and put it on your head.
• If you are in a mobile home, evacuate it immediately. Go to a designated storm shelter or nearby sturdy building.
• If you are driving, try to seek shelter at a convenience store or other building. If no exit is immediately available, seek shelter in a ditch and cover your head with your hands. DO NOT SEEK SHELTER UNDER A HIGHWAY OVERPASS.
• Stay in shelter until the warning has either expired or been cancelled.