Prepare for a tornado before it strikes

The editorial cartoon on today’s Opinion page is meant to illustrate the resiliency of those who live in areas ravaged by tornadoes Monday. But make no mistake: Those in the path of an approaching tornado are not in a fight-or-flight situation.

A tornado calls for a duck-and-cover approach.

It is important to note the distinction between a tornado watch and a warning.

When a watch is enacted for your area, it means conditions are ripe for a tornado to develop. It is your last chance to prepare for such a disaster.

Before weather threatens, the American Red Cross suggests reviewing and discussing emergency plans, and checking supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act before a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching:

Pick a safe room in your home where household members and pets may gather during a tornado. This should be a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.

Practice tornado drills so everyone knows what to do if a tornado is approaching.

Consider having your safe room reinforced. Plans for reinforcing an interior room to provide better protection can be found on the Federal

Emergency Management Agency Web site at


Prepare for high winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees. This is especially important due to the impact the borer beetle has had on ash trees.

Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.

If caught outdoors, get into a vehicle immediately, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If flying debris occurs while driving, pull over and park. Stay in the car with the seat belt on with your head below window level, covering your head with your hands and a blanket if possible.

A tornado warning means a twister has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. This is the time to act on the emergency plans you should have already reviewed and discussed. Remember, the time to prepare for a tornado is before one is threatening.