Tornado season: Don’t let severe weather catch you by surprise

Guest post courtesy of IU Communications multimedia intern Milana Katic:

Tornadoes are more frequent in summer afternoons, but can happen at any time of day. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Tornadoes are more frequent in the afternoon, but can happen at any time of day. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Mid-summer is the time for cookouts, beach days and general fun in the sun. However, mid-summer also marks tornado season in the Midwest, a time to keep a look out for any possible severe weather.

Debbi Fletcher, Indiana University Bloomington’s director of emergency management and continuity, said tornadoes can occur at anytime of day, and have occurred in every month of the year.

“The most important thing for people to do is to be aware of their surroundings, the threat for severe weather, and the shelter locations available,” Fletcher said. “You need to know the potential for severe weather, and the timing of that threat so you can be in the safest place possible.”

These tips can help ensure safety during severe summertime weather:

  • Stay aware: Know when severe weather might come. Pay attention to media outlets during storms, listen to weather radios, or download weather alert applications onto phones. For IU students and staff, pay close attention to the IU alerts.
  • Find shelter: As Fletcher put it, “Go low, go in.” Inside, go to the innermost and lowest part of a building. If you can’t get to a basement, make sure to stay away from windows. If outside, take the nearest shelter.
  • Wait for the “all clear”:  Tornado sirens only last five minutes, but the end of the siren does not mark the end of the warning. Stay informed with a weather alert system and wait for the “all clear” to be announced before leaving shelter.
  • Coming out: If you’re in an area with damage, check yourself and others, and make sure everyone is safe. Try to refrain from contacting family with a phone call because phone towers will be jammed with communication. Sending a text message or email will get the information to your family faster.
  • Have a plan: Above all, know your course of action in a tornado warning. Take these tips and build a plan to use in future situations.

Want more information on safety? Check out these resources:

Protect IU: Tornadoes and Severe Weather
Tornado Preparedness for Laboratories
U.S. Department of Commerce Preparedness Guide
American Red Cross Tornado Warning App


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