Spring Severe Weather Preparedness: Step 2; Pay attention and have multiple ways to receive alerts

Posted Monday, March 22, 2021

How many times have you read or seen in the media a “the tornado struck without warning” quote from survivors? The plain truth is that the vast majority of times a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning was issued – the individual simply didn’t receive it.

There is a big difference between no warning and not getting a warning when one is issued. The impact, unfortunately, is not different. It’s imperative that you and your family are able to get a warning as soon as possible. Early warnings can save lives and prevent serious injury.

Have more than one way to receive weather alerts. This is especially important during nighttime events when you and your family are most vulnerable.

  • An NOAA Weather Radio is the de-facto standard. It’s also the most reliable tool for receiving NWS weather alerts directly and immediately from the source when they are issued. Every home should have a working weather radio. They are just as important as working smoke detectors.
  • A non-commercial weather warning app. There are several good warning apps out there for all platforms but I can only suggest the FEMA App (free). I personally use this app on my phone and it has never let me down in the 5 years I’ve been using it. I hear the Red Cross App is good as well.
  • LOCAL AM/FM radio. Make sure it’s a LOCAL station. Many national and out-of-town commercial radio stations will not relay warnings outside of your local area.
  • LOCAL TV. Cable channels often do not relay local weather warnings.

Never, never, ever rely on outdoor tornado sirens for your family’s weather warnings. Outdoor sirens are only intended as a last-ditch effort to warn people who happen to be caught outside during a tornado. They were never intended to be used as a primary indoor warning system.

If you decide on a weather app be sure you’re phone’s audio is turned up. This is especially important for nighttime storms. The whole idea of a warning app is that it wakes you when a warning comes in. It does little good if you can’t hear the warning.

Also note that a smartphone app is dependent on a good network connection and a good battery. If the network fails or your battery dies you’re out of luck.

This might sound unbelievable to some but there are way too many folks who have no clue of their location on a map. All weather-related information pushed out by the National Weather Service is based on location. It’s really important to be able to pinpoint your general location on a state and county map if a storm or tornado is headed our way.

You don’t have to be a cartographer or an expert map reader. You just need to know where your home is generally located in reference to your county. You also need to be able to spot your county on a state map.

The odds of severe storms or a tornado hitting your home or neighborhood is low, but by no means zero. It only takes one storm – the one that hits your neighborhood – that becomes YOUR disaster.

Part of my personal mission with TuscWeather is to help my friends and neighbors become more aware of our local weather and the threats we face here in Tuscarawas County. I’ve lived long enough to witness first-hand the sadness, death, and destruction Mother Nature can do. I encourage you to take simple steps to become more aware and better prepared for what may be an active storm season.

You can help by sharing info with your friends, neighbors, and relatives. Be safe out there.



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