Tornadoes Will Come; Will You Be Ready?
Spring in Arkansas. Dogwoods bloom, pastels rule the landscape, streams trickle to life…And tornadoes come a-callin'.
Spring is tornado season in Arkansas and much of the South, in particular, and over the decades — heck, centuries perhaps — those who live within the borders of the Natural State have known that the shifting of the seasons spawns many tornado-producing storms.
Last year, Vilonia took the brunt of damage. This year, it could be any town, any one of us. We don’t say that in an attempt to frighten anyone; rather, we want folks to be prepared. In the awful case you do receive storm damage to your home or business, we're here to help. But frankly, if we went out of business because there were no homes or businesses, no possessions, to restore, well, we could live with that.
The most important part of tornado season is protecting yourself and your loved ones. Possessions can be replaced, or, in our case, restored. Your main priority is you and your family. Here are a few tips, a few gentle reminders, and a few tornado facts to keep handy as we ride out another tornado season, courtesy of Weather.com:
- Tornadoes usually accompany thunderstorms, but not always.
- Sometimes the air is calm before a tornado hits, while in other cases it is preceded by strong, gusty winds.
- A tornado may follow sunshine or be shrouded in heavy rain and large, dark, low-lying clouds.
- The sound of a tornado has been compared to a freight train or a jet engine, but you may or may not hear such a noise before a tornado strikes.
- Make sure your family members know and understand the siren warning signals, if there is such a system in place in your area.
- Assemble a family disaster kit. [You know, batteries, a battery-powered radio and flashlight, more batteries…]
- Take photographs of your valuables and store them in a fire- and waterproof safe. Also use the safe to store important documents such as birth certificates, ownership documentation for cars and boats, Social Security cards, insurance policies and wills.
- Check your homeowner's insurance to confirm your coverage in case your home is damaged or destroyed. Tornadoes can be accompanied by heavy rains and flooding, which most homeowner's insurance policies do not cover. Check with your insurance agent or the National Flood Insurance Program for more information.
- Locate and mark where utility switches and valves are in your home so they can be turned off in an emergency if time allows.
- Depending on your location, you may be told to evacuate before a warning or even a watch is issued. Notify friends and/or family members who are unaffected by the storm of where you're going and why.
- Familiarize yourself with the emergency action plans at your school or workplace and identify the appropriate officials and emergency management agencies in your area, with contact information and phone numbers in case you need assistance after a storm.
- Make sure to charge your mobile phone, laptop and other mobile device batteries.
Here's a couple of our own. Your insurance agent will appreciate this first one, and frankly, it can help us as well in the event that your home is damaged:
- Take an inventory of your possessions. Walk around your house and make a list of all your possessions. Sounds tedious, we know. A video inventory, of course, will be much less tedious….Either way, you'll be glad you did if your home is damaged or destroyed by a tornado.
- If you're outside and become aware of an approaching tornado, get inside if at all possible. If inside, DO NOT go outside. Inside, stay away from large, open rooms and of course, windows. If you're stuck outside, get to the nearest ditch or low lying place as quickly as possible. Lay on your stomach with no space between it and the ground. Never try and outrun a tornado. If, for whatever reason, you are caught in the open, can't get to a ditch and have to run, do so at right angles from the storm's path.
Here's hoping none of us ever has to put any of these tips into practice….
Check out these photos from the tornado that hit Little Rock last year on April 14th...