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Take shelter during warnings, watches

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By The Staff

Trimble Emergency Management Director

  March is severe-storm awareness month. Severe storms can strike at any time, causing long-lasting effects on the lives of our citizens.

Through my office, the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management works to prepare and protect Trimble County residents from all hazards and disasters. As we saw recently, severe thunderstorms can bring strong winds, hail and lightning, along with flash-flooding and tornadoes.

If you are outside when a severe thunderstorm hits, take shelter inside a sturdy building and stay tuned to a battery-powered radio for weather updates. Lightning is a major threat during a storm, so if you can’t get to shelter, be sure to avoid standing near natural “lightning rods,” such as tall, isolated trees in open fields or metal objects, such as wire fences, golf clubs and metal tools.

Straight-line winds are responsible for most thunderstorm damage; these winds can exceed 100 mph and they can cause damage equal to that of a tornado.

Flash floods are a threat after heavy thunderstorms, and they often occur at night – making them harder to see. Many deaths caused by flash flooding occur when pedestrians or drivers attempt to cross flooded highways or low-water crossings. If you are in a car that gets caught in high water, leave the vehicle immediately and find higher ground – if you can do so safely.

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from nearly stationary to 70 mph. The strongest tornadoes bring rotating winds of 250 mph or highter.

Know the difference between a “tornado watch” and a “tornado warning.”

A “watch” means weather conditions are favorable for the formation of a tornado.

A “warning” means a tornado ha been sighted by weather watchers.

When a warning is issued, take cover at once.

If you are in a house, go to the middle of the basement, if there is one. Stay away from doors and windows. If there is no basement, go to an interior room on the ground floor. As a last resort, get under a heavy piece of furniture, like a sturdy table or a couch. If possible, cover yourself with a blanket or sleeping bag.

If you are in a high-rise building, use the stairs to go to the designated shelter area or to an interior room on the lowest floor.

If you are in a mobile home, camper or trailer, get out. Take shelter in a nearby building, if possible. Don’t go to your car and don’t try to drove away from a tornado. If you are outdoors, lay yourself down in a ditch, away from trees and power lines.

If weather looks like it could become dangerous, find your battery-powered radio and keep it with you so you can listen for emergency instructions and also find out when the danger has passed. Wait until officials lift the tornado warning before going back to your normal routine.

Also, keep a Storm Survival Kit handy. This should include a flash light with fresh batteries, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a battery-powered radio, drinking water, emergency phone numbers, nonperishable food items and medicines.