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Although most everyone has seen what a tornado looks like, whether it be from photographs, actual video footage, or perhaps even from real life experience, few people can accurately define all the terms associated with a tornado. For example, what is the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning? In some cases, knowing these terms can make you better prepared and aware, and give you additional time for preparation. Below you will find a comprehensive list of tornado terms as well as some tips relating to these terms.
When issued, a tornado watch generally indicates that weather conditions in the given area are favorable for the formation of a tornado. During a tornado watch it is important to:
- Stay alert and continue to listen for updates or instructions on the radio or television.
- Keep your eye on the horizon for any funnel-shaped clouds. If you spot any, call 9-1-1 to inform the proper authorities.
When issued, a tornado warning means that an actual tornado funnel has been seen or detected electronically by a weather radar in or around your area. During a tornado warning it is important to take the following safety precautions:
- Go indoors, preferably into a basement or storm cellar. If the building you are in does not have either, find an interior room or hallway on the lowest level of the building with no windows to protect yourself from flying glass. Place yourself in the center of this area.
- Protect your head from flying objects by getting under something sturdy like a heavy table and covering your head with your arms and hands.
- If you cannot get inside of a building in time, look for shelter in a low-lying area such as a ditch.
- Never remain in your car. Tornadoes are much too fast to outrun and are strong enough to lift a car up and throw it.
A rotating column of air coming down from a cloud but not touching the ground.
Small tornadoes that are born off of major tornadoes and can go off in their own destructive path.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations network of volunteer tornado spotters.
A column of storm winds between the top and bottom of storm clouds, and from which tornado funnels drop.
Powerful storm clouds that give birth to mesocyclones and their corresponding tornadoes.
A tornado that occurs out at sea.
A device dropped in the path of a tornado to measure such information as strength, sped and direction.
Fujita Scale (Fujita-Pearson Scale)
A way of categorizing tornadoes in relation to damage done and estimated wind speed. The scale is from F0 to F6.
F0- Gale Tornado with wind speed 40 - 72 mph
F1- Moderate Tornado with wind speed 73 - 112 mph
F2- Significant Tornado with wind speed 113 - 157 mph
F3- Severe Tornado with wind speed 158 - 206 mph
F4- Devastating Tornado with wind speed 207 - 260 mph
F5- Incredible Tornado with wind speed 261 - 318 mph
F6- Inconceivable Tornado with wind speed 319 - 379 mph
-- Matt Zeiter
It's coming. Again.
Hurricane season is on its way. Tornadoes have already started making their debuts across the South and Midwest. With the memories of Katrina and Rita all too vivid, and fears of another disaster abundant, families must begin thinking now about disaster plans. Even people who feel they have plans in place ready should review them. If 2005 taught us anything, it is that hurricanes can be almost unimaginably devastating.
The better you prepare for a disaster, the better chance you have of being able to survive it, says the Insurance Information Institute in New York. Without a doubt, these are words to live by. Most people
think about major natural disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes, and how to prepare for them, at least to some degree. But less dramatic, more common incidents such as house fires or extended power outages can wreak havoc, too.
With that in mind, experts say the first step of any planning agenda has to be securing the safety of all family members. Safeguarding any property or valuable personal information must come second. A number
of websites offer good safety tips for creating evacuation plans and emergency supply kits, most notably:
The American Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org).
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (http://www.ready.gov).
While you can't do anything unless you ensure your physical safety, you'll also need to have financial safety measures in place. Start by purchasing a container or safe to store duplicates of important documents, such as your mortgage records and deeds, your will and testament, home/life insurance policies, stock/bond certificates, etc. Make sure this container is not only waterproof, but fireproof. Families should make a list of financial accounts and prescription drug/medical needs as well.
"This ranges from protecting your financial documents to making sure you have spending money available," said Mark Cybulski, a spokesperson for MassMutual Financial Group in Springfield, Mass. The container should be something you can grab if you need to leave the house in a hurry."
Families should also have a game plan in mind for how they will cope with expenses if they're forced to abandon their home. Keeping a stash of cash in an envelope in case local banks or ATMs are shut down is a start, with smaller denominations preferable. The smaller the bill, the more useable it is in more places. Keeping a supply of quarters on hand can be helpful for smaller purchases as well as emergency pay phone calls.
Taking a broader approach to financial management, people should also have a savings account or other liquid investments accessible if they're out of work for awhile or need to cover emergency costs. If all your funds are tied up in stocks, bonds or IRAs, it could be difficult to get your hands on them quickly, as well as avoid surcharges and penalties. Other easy step you can take is to photocopy the front and back of all the cards in your wallet, so you have a record of your accounts, contacts, and creditors.
The Insurance Information Institute says families should take steps to protect their property, especially those living along the Gulf Coast and other parts of the East Coast that are vulnerable to hurricanes and high winds. Meteorologists have predicted that we we are in the midst of a geologic cycle in which we may experience powerful hurricane seasons regularly until 2020 or 2005. This is not a threat to take lightly.
The Institute for Business and Home Safety (http://www.ibhs.org) has some good tips for protecting property from floods, freezing conditions, high winds, fires, earthquakes and other natural disasters. Families can get information about flood damage and insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program (http://www.floodsmart.gov). Whatever it takes to be prepared, you should do it. You may only get one chance!
-- Wayne Terrance
Lightning strikes the United States as many as 20 million times each year. Because lightning traditionally causes more deaths than tornadoes or hurricanes and occurs when outdoor activity reaches a peak, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) and the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) are reminding consumers and those who work outdoors of these lightning safety guidelines.
Lack of awareness about what to do during thunderstorms seems to be a factor in many lightning injuries and deaths," noted Michael G. Clendenin, executive director of ESFI.
"Data from the National Weather Service shows that lightning strikes are fatal in approximately 10 percent of strike victims. Another 70 percent of survivors suffer serious long-term effects.
Outdoors is the most dangerous place to be during a lightning storm. Because lightning can travel sideways for up to 10 miles, blue skies are not a sign of safety. If you hear thunder, take cover. For protection in homes and buildings, consider contracting with an experienced LPI-certified lightning protection specialist to install a lightning protection system, which can intercept lightning strikes and guide the current harmlessly to the ground.
"The LPI certifies individuals through a Master Installer testing program to maximize safety through education," says Bud VanSickle, executive director of the Lightning Protection Institute. "LPI-certified specialists are trained in accordance with national safety standards of LPI, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL)."
ESFI and the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) recommend following these guidelines to stay safe during electrical storms:
- If outdoors, go inside. Look for a shelter equipped with a lightning protection system.
- Go to a low point. Lightning hits the tallest object. Get down if you are in an exposed area.
- Stay away from trees.
- Avoid metal. Don't hold metal items, including bats, golf clubs, fishing rods, tennis rackets or tools. Avoid clotheslines, poles and fences.
- If you feel a tingling sensation or your hair stands on end, lightning may be about to strike. Crouch down and cover your ears.
- Stay away from water. This includes pools, lakes, puddles and anything damp, such as wet poles or grass.
- Don't stand close to other people. Spread out.
- Once indoors, stay away from windows and doors.
- Do not use corded telephones except for emergencies.
- Unplug electronic equipment before the storm arrives and avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords during storms.
- Avoid contact with plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets. Do not take baths and showers during electrical storms.
- Don't forget pets during thunderstorms. Doghouses are not lightning-safe. Dogs that are chained can easily fall victim to a lightning strike.
Victims of lightning strikes should be given CPR if necessary, and seek medical attention. For protection in homes and buildings, consider contracting with an experienced LPI-certified lightning protection specialist to install a lightning protection system, which can intercept lightning strikes and guide the current harmlessly to the ground.
LPI recommends contacting local lightning protection specialists for more information; or visit their website at www.lightning.org. For more information on electrical safety, visit ESFI's website at www.electrical-safety.org.
Founded in 1994 through a joint effort between Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL), the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is North America’s only non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to promoting electrical safety in the home, school and workplace. ESFI is a 501(c)(3) organization funded by electrical manufacturers and distributors, independent testing laboratories, utilities, safety and consumer groups, and trade and labor associations. ESFI sponsors National Electrical Safety Month each May, and engages in public education campaigns and proactive
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Mother Nature can make you feel powerless during a storm or natural disaster. Have you and your family talked about how you would react in these situations? Are you prepared with the necessary knowledge and supplies? Depending on where in the world you live, you may need to be concerned about a thunderstorm, a tornado, a hurricane or other tropical storm, or even an earthquake or the eruption of a volcano. Being prepared can make a big difference to you, your family, and your home when disaster strikes.
Use the Safety.com and portalsafety.ucoz.com Weather and Disaster Center to gather the information and tools you need to adequately protect and provide for your family in case of disaster.