How to stay safe in severe weather

Story by Destinee Marking, Staff writer

Recent weather conditions have demonstrated the importance of knowing proper procedures for staying safe during  severe weather.

Calloway County has fallen under multiple severe weather watches and warnings this semester.

The National Weather Service provides the following guidelines for staying safe in times of severe weather.

Tornadoes

  • The safest place to be is an underground shelter, basement, or safe room.
  • If you are caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building. If you cannot quickly walk to a shelter:
    • Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
    • If flying debris occurs while you are driving, pull over and park. You have the following options as a last resort:
    • Stay in your vehicle with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible.
    • If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car, and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.

Severe thunderstorms

  • Know the risk for the area in which you live or visit.
  • Keep in mind that even though the weather may be calm at the time a Tornado or Severe Thunderstorm Watch or Warning is issued for your area, conditions can rapidly deteriorate and become life threatening.
  • Having a safe room in your home or small business can help provide “near-absolute protection” for you and your family or your employees from injury or death caused by extreme winds.
  • If you’re outside and hear thunder, the only way to significantly reduce your risk of becoming a lightning casualty is to get inside a substantial building or hard-topped metal vehicle as fast as you can

Chief of Police James Herring said he and the rest of the public safety department employees take severe weather very seriously.

Herring said department employees pay close attention to the National Weather Service and when it announces there is a risk for severe weather, Calloway County inhabitants need to make sure they are looking out for updates.

“When you get an alert, you need to take cover right away,” Herring said.

During severe weather watches, Herring said students can go about normal activities, including attending class.

If a warning sounds during or prior to a class, students must pay attention to professors for further instruction.

Jennifer Rukavina, WPSD chief meteorologist, also stresses the importance of staying alert.

“Be prepared at any given moment,” Rukavina said. “Not just when severe weather is present, but ahead of time so if there were to be surprise severe weather, then you’re not scrambling to figure out what to do.”

For those living off campus in apartments or houses, Rukavina said the safest place to go is to the lowest level of the building. Get into an interior room, but if there is not one, a hallway toward the center of the building and away from windows is the next safest place.

With the existence of social media, Rukavina said she has noticed a difference in how people expect to be notified of severe weather.

Rukavina said people still need to stay tuned to the radio, TV and mobile app alerts to avoid confusion.

To stay up to date with weather conditions in the area, download the National Weather Service mobile app, the WPSD mobile app or visit the Calloway County Code Red website .