MASON CITY — With this being Severe Weather Awareness Week in the state of Iowa, it’s a time that families should sit down and think about the things they should be doing if severe weather goes through the area.
Cerro Gordo County Emergency Management Coordinator Steve O’Neil says people need to have an awareness to what is a safe location no matter where they are at. “You want to make sure your family knows what those locations are. At home, where’s the best place they should go. At school, at work, or if they are out in a vehicle, identifying what is a safe location. In a vehicle, there’s a lot of misnomers of where you should go, such as an underpass. That’s actually one of the worst places to be during a wind storm or a tornado. Low areas like that could flood easily.”
O’Neil says if a tornado warning is issued, take shelter in the basement of your home immediately and don’t try to look for the tornado. “The best for everyone is if you have a basement, go to the basement. There’s no particular corner or anything, basically away from the walls, under something sturdy, or if underneath your stairwell is clear. Get to a good secure place in the middle.”
O’Neil says if you don’t have a basement, get to the lowest level that you have. “And put as many walls as you can between you and the outside. If you have an interior bathroom, that’s a great place to go. Inside the tub offers extra protection. If you have a closet that’s internal, that’s another good place. Just even a hallway that you can shut the bedroom doors and other doors and stay in the hallway more toward the center of the house, that’s where you want to be.”
If a storm causes major damage to an area, things like phone service may be interrupted for long periods of time. O’Neil says you should figure out a plan that allows all family members to keep in touch to make sure they are safe after a disastrous storm. He recommends they find a friend or family member that does not live in the area, that way each member can call in and you can do a follow-up later. “If you pick someone in the same community, the chances are they are affected too and you may not have that communication.”
Today’s Severe Weather Awareness Week topic is “family preparedness”. For more about this topic and the others being covered this week, click here.