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Prepare for storm season with tips on planning and preparedness

Post Date:03/23/2017 9:39 AM

Severe weather season is almost upon us in Oklahoma City. Help keep your family safe by preparing in advance.

Visit okc.gov/prepare for a full list of tips and information on preparing for weather hazards of all types.

Clean out shelters and closets

Clean out your storm shelters and closets to make sure they are accessible and comfortable.

Shelters should be dusted and cleaned, and their entrances should be unobstructed. If you use a closet or interior room as a tornado shelter, make sure floor space is clear and blankets, pillows, helmets and other safety items are easily accessible.

Make sure the moving parts like door hinges, latches and rollers are properly working and you have performed any preventative maintenance.

If you spray your storm shelter or safe room for bugs and insects, make sure it is properly ventilated before vacuuming it or using it.

Make a plan, and build a kit

Every household should have an emergency supply kit, and plans for what to do in weather emergencies at every location where you spend lots of time – home, work, school, church, etc.

Visit okc.gov/prepare for tips on making a plan and building a kit.

Take shelter if you hear a siren

If you hear a siren, immediately take shelter and get more information about the storm.

OKC's outdoor warning sirens sound in and near areas where the National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning or where a spotter reports a tornado. There is no all-clear signal.

OKC tests its sirens at noon on Saturdays unless there's a threat of inclement weather.

Use OKC's Accessible Hazard Alert System to receive alerts in American Sign Language and English voice and text.

Have more than one way to get weather information

Wherever you are during a severe weather threat, be sure to have more than one way to get information about the weather. This can include a television, radio, weather radio, or smartphone. You should have at least one way to get information even if your electric power is out, like a hand crank-powered radio.

Reliable sources of weather information include:

Shelter in place

Oklahoma City Emergency Management recommends people should shelter-in-place during tornado warnings. Oklahoma City does not have public storm shelters.

Shelter-in-place means to take shelter where you are, remaining inside your home, workplace or nearby buildings.

The best way to shelter in place and for residents to protect themselves against the impact of a tornado is to install a safe room or storm shelter. Safe rooms and storm shelters designed and constructed to FEMA guidelines and ICC 500 standards will protect against the force of extreme winds up to 250 miles per hour.

If you do not have a below-ground storm shelter, keep in mind that most homes provide adequate protection from 98 percent of Oklahoma’s tornadoes. Sheltering in an interior hallway or room without exterior windows or doors on the lowest level of your house is typically the safest place to be during a tornado. Put on any helmet, if available. Wear sturdy shoes to protect you if you need to walk through debris. 

People who live in trailers or manufactured homes should have a plan to seek shelter in a well-constructed building nearby.

People who live on upper levels of apartment buildings should seek shelter in an apartment on the lowest level of the complex.

Vehicles are among the most dangerous places to be during a tornado. Find a nearby building to shelter in if you are driving during a tornado warning. Never seek shelter underneath a bridge or overpass.

If you are stranded outside, lie down in a ditch or low-lying area away from your vehicle.

Register your storm shelter

If you have a storm shelter that is not registered with the City, do so by registering it online at this link or calling the City’s Action Center at (405) 297-2535 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays.

Disasters and pets

  • Create a plan that includes your pets and make sure everyone in the home is aware of individual expectations, communication and meeting locations.
  • Always keep a collar and tag on pets. Include your name, phone number and email on the tag and write it with permanent ink on the inside of the collar. We also recommend a form of permanent identification such as a microchip or tattoo for all animals.
  • Create a disaster bag for your pet. It should include a copy of your pet’s medical records, a photo of your pet, copies of your pet’s identifications, food, water, medications, leash, bowls, bedding, litter/box and a carrier to transport your pet.
  • Start a buddy system with your neighbors to check on each other’s pets if you are not home after a disaster.
  • Make sure your pet is free of disease and up-to-date on vaccinations so it will be accepted into a facility if necessary.
  • Know the phone number and address of the Animal Shelter so you can find out about temporary evacuation locations for your pet or know where to go if you lost your pet during a disaster. Oklahoma City Animal Welfare is at 2811 SE 29th Street and can be reached at (405) 297-3100.

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Media Contact
Kristy Yager
(405) 297-2550 / (405) 863-2831
kristy.yager@okc.gov

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