Missouri and Kansas residents reminded to take precaution when severe weather looms

It’s that time of the year in Missouri and Kansas when there are frequent severe weather warnings, and the American Red Cross urges everyone to get prepared now.

Download the free Red Cross Emergency App to have safety information, severe weather alerts and shelter locations available on mobile devices. Red Cross apps are available in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/apps.

Red Cross volunteer walking in street
American Red Cross volunteer Scott Riggs of the Greater Kansas City chapter carries a dog to its owner after a tornado struck Orrick, Missouri, east of Kansas City, causing damage to many homes in the area. (American Red Cross photo)

Listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio for updates and know your community’s warning system. Also watch for signs of an approaching storm such as darkening skies, increasing wind or lightning flashes, and postpone outdoor activities accordingly. If you can hear thunder, you’re close enough to be in danger from lightning – if thunder roars, go indoors.

Households should build disaster kits with enough supplies for at least three days, including water (one gallon, per person, per day), nonperishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, a 7-day supply of medications, a multi-purpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items and copies of important personal documents.

They also should have an emergency plan in which each person knows how to reach other members of the household. The plan also should include an out-of-area emergency contact person, and a place where everyone should meet if they can’t go home.

Other safety steps include:

BEFORE THE STORM:

  • Pick a safe room – a basement, storm cellar or interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
  • Move items inside that could be picked up by the wind such as lawn furniture, trash cans and hanging plants.
  • Watch for tornado danger signs such as dark, often greenish clouds, a wall cloud or cloud of debris, large hail, a roaring noise or funnel cloud.

DURING A TORNADO:

  • Go to an underground shelter, basement or safe room. If these are not available, go to a small windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building.
  • Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes. Do not seek shelter in the hallway or bathroom of a mobile home. If you can get to a sturdy shelter or vehicle, abandon the mobile home immediately and go to the nearest sturdy building, using your seat belt if driving. Do not wait until you see the tornado.
  • If caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building. If you can’t get to one quickly, get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the nearest sturdy building.
  • If driving, either stay in the car with the seat belt on and put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible. Or, if you can get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, get out of the car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.
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