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Learn to take shelter

Severe Weather Awareness Week scheduled next week

Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 11:22 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 11:38 a.m. CDT

Tornadoes can touch down in southern Iowa. An example is the April 2012 tornado that hit Creston.

Now that spring weather is on its way, so is severe-weather season.

The Iowa Homeland Security, Emergency Management Division and National Weather Service have declared the week of March 25 through 29 Severe Weather Awareness Week.

Statewide drill

The highlight of the week will be the statewide tornado drill scheduled Wednesday morning.

“It’s just a good opportunity for people to practice their drills and practice where they’re supposed to go — whether it’s in their house or whether it’s in their business,” said Clarke County Emergency Management Coordinator Allan Mathias.

Mathias said if the “real thing comes,” people need to know what they should do, where they should go and how to create a plan.

He advised having flashlights, radios, food and cellphones in case of an emergency.

For more information on weather warnings, Mathias recommended downloading an app through the Red Cross for severe weather warnings and information. There’s different apps though the Red Cross, including “Tornado” and “First Aid.”

“Once a tornado goes through, chances are you’re not going to have any power,” he said. “Depending on where the tornado goes through, you may or may not have any cellphone coverage anyway.”

Many areas of Creston lost power and cell-phone coverage after the April 2012 tornado.

Designated areas

“It’s important to let your family members know where you’re going to go when you take shelter,” Mathias said. “Do you have a specific place in your house that you’re going to go to? They need to know where that area is at. So, if your home collapses on top of wherever you are, they know what part of the home to look for you at.”

He added, it’s important to let people know if a safety plan is to go to a neighbor’s house during severe weather.

Mathias said people tend to want to run outside and see what’s happening during severe weather. This can lead to a greater potential for injuries. The best place to go after a tornado-warning siren is an area that’s been designated for shelter.

If a house doesn’t have a basement, Mathias said a center area of a house that doesn’t have any windows is a good place to be.

If such an area doesn’t exist, Mathias recommended finding a closet or corner of the house and having a couch next to you for cover. Also, don’t worry about closing windows before taking shelter because, more than likely, the storm will blow them out.

“We’ve been fortunate, so, hopefully, the need for that will never come up,” Mathias said.

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