Emergency officials discuss tornado preparedness

Bill Brinton, Buchanan County emergency coordinator talks about the importance of tornado preparedness.

It has been a relatively mild season for tornadoes in the Midwest this year.

According to the Washington Post, the U.S. had no deaths from tornadoes in May for the first time since 2014.

News-Press NOW’s Chief Meteorologist, Bruce Thomas said the lack of tornadoes is due to a cool, wet spring and not enough heat or wind shear.

Thomas said June is the second-highest risk month for tornadoes and encourages people to have at least three different ways to be alerted for serve weather.

Bill Brinton, the Buchanan County emergency coordinator, said even though springtime is when tornadoes generally occur, they can happen any time of the year.

“There really is no time zone for it because last year we had tornadoes in the Midwest in November and December,” Brinton said.

Brinton said it is essential to be prepared no matter the time of year by having a plan.

“Every family should have an emergency plan, (which should) include things like food and where to go to be safe, and that’s usually the lowest part of your house, away from windows,” Brinton said.

Sarah Clark-Williams, disaster program manager for the American Red Cross of Missouri and Arkansas, said many people confuse the difference between a tornado watch and a warning.

“A tornado watch means that a tornado is possible, it could be produced, and then a tornado warning is the more intense urgency, it means that a tornado is already occurring or will occur soon,” Clark-Williams said. “And a warning is really the time that you need to seek your space, your safe place immediately.”

Both Brinton and Clark-Williams said one of the best ways to be prepared is to have an app on your phone to alert when there is a tornado or other serve weather is near.

“Something people need to think about is that in Buchanan County, all of our sirens go off at the same time. And sirens are meant to be heard from people outside,” Brinton said. “You should have an application on your phone that notifies you when you’re either in a watch or a warning so you can take cover.”

Brinton said this can be helpful during the night when people are sleeping and may not be aware of the weather.

Clark-Williams said the American Red Cross has an app that will send alerts and safety tips.

“The emergency app will notify you of a watch or warning, just like a weather radio does. So you can get alerts and tips for staying safe in tornado season. And the free tornado outputs the information you need to prepare for and recover from this type of weather event. You can receive weather alerts for watches or warnings that are happening in your community, or any location, where a loved one is,” Clark-Williams said.

Maykayla Hancock can be reached at makayla.hancock@newspressnow.com. Follow her on Twitter: @NPNowHancock.

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