Storm and Tornado News

3 Ways to Avoid Getting Trapped in Your Storm Shelter

Worried About Getting Trapped in Your Storm Shelter? 

A general fear among homeowners is getting trapped in their underground storm shelter by heavy debris. Because of this fear, many people will not get into a storm shelter during a tornado emergency. And, while flying debris is a major cause of injury and death during a tornado, without a storm shelter, you are at severe risk of injury or death. Heavy debris can land on your under-ground storm shelter while you are inside. The question is, how do you avoid getting trapped?

  1. Hydraulic jacks – Extremely important for storm shelter owners, hydraulic jacks can free you from heavy debris. They are portable, inexpensive and capable of lifting several tons. Hydraulic jacks not only lift extremely heavy objects, but can also prop up your shelter door to enable you to safely exit. Hydraulic jacks are easy to operate and need to be stored inside of your shelter in case of a tornado emergency.
  2. Cars – Believe it or not, your own car can help protect your in-ground shelter from debris. In-ground, garage, storm shelters are designed for you to park your car on top of the shelter and still have room to enter during an emergency. During a severe storm, as debris flies or falls, your car can act as a shield for your shelter. This should allow you unhindered freedom to exit your shelter.
  3. Shelter registration – The state of Oklahoma has a storm shelter registry for homeowners. Once your shelter is installed, immediately file your shelter with your city or county. This enables first responders to find your shelter and ensure that you are okay. Rescue units are outfitted with handheld computers to assist in the storm shelter search. If you are renting your home, you can call your county emergency assistance office to make sure your home’s shelter is registered.

There is no possible way the human body can withstand a tornado, by itself. Storm shelters save lives. Don’t let fear keep you from being safe during a tornado. In fact, the odds of being trapped inside of your storm shelter are extremely low, even lower if you follow proper safety preparation. Stay safe during tornado season, install a storm shelter today.

Storm Shelter Registration Links:

Edmond:  http://edmondok.com/index.aspx?NID=500

Nichols Hills:  http://www.nicholshills.net/sectionindex.asp?sectionid=65

Norman:  http://www.normanok.gov/content/storm-shelter-registration-form

Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office offers registration online for Oklahoma County residents. Register here.

https://www.oklahomacounty.org/sheriff/stormshelter/

Bixby:  http://www.bixby.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/STORM-SHELTER1.pdf

Broken Arrow:  http://www.brokenarrowok.gov/398/Storm-Shelter-Registration

Glenpool — Community Development Department — 918-322-5409

Muskogee:   http://www.cityofmuskogee.com/how_do_i_(faq)/register_a_storm_shelter.php

Owasso: http://www.cityofowasso.com/FormCenter/Emergency-Management-8/Storm-Shelter-Registration-53

Tulsa:  https://www.cityoftulsa.org/public-safety/storm-shelter-registration.aspx

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The Best Ways to Prep Your Home for Storm Season

Tornadoes strike hard, and they strike fast. If you’ve lived in Oklahoma for any length of time, you know that tornado season can put fear into even the, strongest of hearts. So, your safest bet is to prepare your home before storm season comes rolling down the plains. But how exactly can you do that?

Follow these seven tips to prepare your home for tornado season.

  • Batten down the hatches – Door and window frames can loosen over time. High winds alone can whip doors and windows open, breaking them completely. Make sure the frames are secure, if not, then resealing, tightening or replacing screws is a good bet. If your windows and doors are broken, warped or weak, consider replacing them.
  • Watch out for flying missiles – Patio chairs and tables are great for relaxing outdoors, but they can also become zooming projectiles in a storm. Not only does this pose a risk for you, but for your home as well. Heavy patio furniture can crash through windows, doors and even walls. Before they become a danger, bolt them to your patio slab or brick. This will also prevent them from landing in your neighbor’s yard, two miles away.
  • Clear away the extra – Potted plants are heavy, and can fly through windows during a storm. If you know that a storm is approaching, put heavy pots, garden tools, etc. in your garage until the storm passes. Walls can withstand quite a bit – windows, not so much. Anything that can fly through a window is a danger to you and your family.
  • Evaluate and strengthen – If you have additional structures on your property, such as storage buildings, decks, or pergolas, give them a close inspection. If they are structurally sound, then you are good. But if they are unstable in any way, consider repairing them and adding additional strength. Even weak fences can become a hazard in a tornado, so repairing them beforehand will not only help them withstand the high winds, but also keep them from flying into your home. If a structure is especially weak, consider tearing it down. New fences with metal posts can withstand a storm much better then an older fence with weak wooden posts.
  • Doctor your trees –  Weak trees are the first thing to go in a violent storm. Have you seen pictures of splintered trees impaling homes after a tornado? It’s not pretty. Fortunately, pruning your trees is an easy fix. If you do it before tornado season. Check for weak or breaking branches and cut them off. Also, get rid of any dead branches that are lying on the ground. A good strong tree can withstand high winds, but weak ones cannot.
  • Have a roof inspection – Let’s face it, our roofs take a beating during storm season. But the better shape your roof is in, the better it will hold up to high winds. If you have loose shingles, or drooping gutters, you can bet you’ll have leaks, or pooling water, after heavy rains. It’s best to get those small roof repairs done before the rains hit. This will give your home extra protection from expensive repairs. Roof leaks are a pain to handle, it’s best if you throw a little precaution for roof repairs into your home prep.
  • Perform a storm shelter checkup – If you have a storm shelter (kudos if you do!), perform a quick reliability check. Newer shelters should be good to go, since they are tested and rated for safety, but older shelters should be carefully inspected. Especially, if they are outdoor shelters. Inspect them for possible cracks, or areas where water could seep in. Also, reinforce the hatch and make sure it still latches and unlatches properly. Clear out any insects that have called it home during the winter and make sure you have a safety kit on hand. If you don’t have a storm shelter, consider having one installed immediately. Storm shelters have become extremely affordable, and are your best bet to survive a tornado. Nothing beats a storm shelter for safety. Nothing.

Preparing your home for a tornado is key to minimal damage for you and your home.

While tornado season has gotten a bad rap (for good reason), it doesn’t mean that your family and your home can’t survive intact. Prepping ahead of time can be done with minimal expense and time. Spending a weekend or two battening down your property is well worth it – for your family’s lives, and for your home as well.

Is your fence falling down? Visit us at: http://www.okcbackyard.com/index.html to learn how we can help.

Do you need roof repair? Visit us at: http://www.okroofing.net/index.html to learn more.

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7 Important Power Outage Safety Tips

Tornadoes blow through town wreaking havoc and widespread destruction. Power outages follow closely in their wake. Some towns have gone days without power due to tornado damage. So how do you survive a power outage with minimal disruption to your life? By following these 7 SAFETY TIPS.

  1. The number # 1 rule is not to touch downed powerlines. If they have fallen on or around your home, stay put and call 911. If live lines have ignited a fire on your home, exit the home immediately and step carefully over the lines.
  2. Always keep some cash on hand during severe weather season. If the power goes out, banks and other essential providers will most likely lose power, too.
  3. Fill up on gas before the storm hits. If your community goes dark, there goes your cars fuel supply.
  4. Keep a healthy supply of flashlights and batteries in your home and car. Make sure they are accessible to all members of your family.
  5. Have extra blankets and warm clothing readily available. On the rare occasion that tornadoes occur during winter, a power outage can make for a chilly night.
  6. Always have an extra supply of bottled water and non-perishable food items, including baby supplies and pet food. If power outages affect your community long term, groceries will be in short supply.
  7. If possible, have a small generator as back up. Generators can supply your home with electricity for several days while power lines are repaired.

Tornadoes can easily snap power lines and poles, forcing homeowners to do without electricity for days on end. The better prepared you are for unexpected outages, the easier you will have it while you wait for the power to spring back to life.

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10 Step Checklist to Assess Your Home for Storm Damage

Storms can be destructive to our homes, especially if a tornado is involved. Once the severe weather has passed and you are safe, it’s time to inspect your home for storm damage. Most severe weather damage requires a home professional to evaluate and repair. In the meantime, use this 10 STEP CHECKLIST to make an initial damage assessment of your home.

  1. Chipped or split driveways and walkways
  1. Broken or dangling tree branches
  1. Split or broken brick
  1. Foundation cracks or chips
  1. Fallen shingles
  1. Drooping gutters
  1. Dented or torn A/C units
  1. Cracked or broken windows
  1. Leaning or bulging walls
  1. Roof holes or damage

Don’t forget to inspect exterior structures such as pergolas, decks, fences and sheds. If you can do so safely, take pictures of the damage to submit to your insurance company. You can also render temporary repairs while you wait for home experts to assess and repair your home. Boarding up broken windows, and covering damaged roof areas with tarp are acceptable ways to prevent further issues to your home.

If there are downed power lines on your property, don’t go near them, call your electrical company immediately. Also, if you smell natural gas or see smoke, call the appropriate authorities.

Your family’s safety is the most important thing during or after a severe storm. Things can be replaced, people can’t, so don’t stress too much over home damage – it can be fixed. Fortunately, you have home insurance for a reason and home experts to guide you.

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Can A Weather Radio Save Your Life?

There is nothing more important than staying informed during a severe weather situation. But what happens when your electricity goes out? Or you must take sanctuary in your storm shelter? This is when a weather radio becomes a ‘must have’ tool. It provides a critical link to the outside world, and keeps you up to date on possible dangerous situations.

But what exactly is a weather radio and how does it differ from a normal radio?

A true weather radio is serviced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and issues updates on current or upcoming weather events and other emergencies. Alerts such as natural disasters, earthquakes, hurricanes and other public service emergencies are a comprehensive part of the NWR alert system. In conjunction with the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Emergency Alert System, NWR is an “all hazards” radio network, allowing it to be a comprehensive source for weather and emergency information.

Weather radios can’t be picked up on normal AM/FM transmissions because they operate on their own set of VHF frequencies. Certain weather radios have a Specific Alert Message Encoding (SAME) that will break through normal radio broadcasts to issue an alarm. Special features also allow you to specify your location for more accurate broadcasts. Weather ‘alert’ radios have the ability to remain silent until a programmed alert is issued.

While most weather radios can be powered by electricity, they do have a backup battery system. Therefore, batteries should always be in your emergency kit. Another popular feature, is the hand-crank generator. This allows the radio to stay powered in case of electrical or battery failure.

While radios may seem old fashioned, a true weather radio is a critical tool for possible emergencies. Inexpensive, small and portable, a weather radio can be your best friend. And yes, it can save your life!

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Does My Homeowners Policy Cover Tornado Damage?

For those of us in tornado alley, tornado damage is a real possibility. Homeowners depend on their insurance companies to protect their home in the event of a natural disaster. However, tornado damage isn’t completely covered in a typical homeowner’s insurance policy. Understanding what is covered and what isn’t is crucial to rebounding from significant tornado damage.

Per insurance standards, a tornado is classified as a windstorm, and policies do cover most of the wind damage your home may sustain, including damage from hail or flying debris. Coverage also includes additional structures on your property such as garages, pergolas, and decks. Some even cover the loss of your personal belongings and the ‘loss of use’ of your home. But there are limitations to your coverage.

Water damage resulting from tornadoes does not typically fall under the coverage umbrella. Double check your policy, because you may need to purchase additional coverage for this. Also, remember that not only do you have a deductible to meet, but you may have a cap on the amount that your insurance company will pay out to you in case of complete home loss.

Periodically review your homeowner’s insurance policy to clarify any changes and understand exactly what is covered. If you have questions or are unsure of certain sections, speak with your insurance representative. The only way to truly safeguard your investment is to understand how your policy will protect you in the event of an emergency.

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What Is a Safe Room and How Can it Protect Me?

Above ground safe rooms are gaining ground as the ultimate multi-purpose shelter, and for good reason.

Made of thick steel or concrete, safe rooms can be built within existing rooms or pre-built with vaulted doors that are reinforced with several steel bolts. Most saferooms are constructed in the garage against an interior wall for better protection. They are above ground which makes them easy to enter and exit and are excellent for people who may have difficulty getting into a below-ground shelter.

Safe rooms can come equipped with several ‘bells and whistles’, depending on your wants and needs. A video monitoring system will allow you to watch intruders or monitor the storm while it passes, all while you are protected in your safe room. Keypad door locks and ventilation systems can also be installed on your safe room, making it the complete safety package.

While serving their main purpose as tornado shelters, safe rooms can also provide protection from people too, for example during home invasions and burglaries. They can also function as a safe and protect such valuables as jewelry or weapons. And while no shelter (in ground or above-ground) is 100% foolproof against tornadoes or other disasters, safe rooms are at the top of the heap in regards to functionality and pure strength.

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What is a Tornado Cluster?

What is a Tornado Cluster?  Tornado clusters are sudden outbursts of twisters that can occur over several days. and with more tornadoes involved in each occurrence. It is considered an outbreak when six or more EF-1 tornadoes begin within 6 hours of each other, despite their proximity.

During a recent NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) study, researchers discovered that the average number of tornadoes, per cluster, has risen from 10 to 15 in recent years. The project involved studying the number of tornadoes per outbreak in addition to the tornado variability. “These discoveries suggest that the risks from tornado outbreaks are rising far faster than previously recognized,” stated Joel Cohen, a mathematical population biologist and head of the Laboratory of Populations at Rockefeller University in New York and Columbia’s Earth Institute.

A record 79% of tornado fatalities have resulted from these deadly outbreaks. During a particularly destructive week in April of 2011, more than 350 tornadoes weaved a destructive path across south-central United States causing more than 300 fatalities. With the increased possibility of multiple tornadoes, state emergency funds as well as the availability of first responders can be stretched to a breaking point.

Understanding the reason for the rise in outbreaks, is still a gray area. Climate change has been suggested as the possible drive for the increased number of tornadoes since weather patterns are in a constant state of flux. But scientists caution against zeroing in on certain conclusions until more data has been analyzed.

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Are Storm Shelters Important?

Hear from the Storm Shelter Experts

Having a storm shelter for your family is important. Safety should always come first especially during these
Propane Tanks Lined Up in front of debris from a destructive tortimes when a tornado or a storm could hit at any time. Being prepared will help you easily survive a storm or a tornado, but it also takes some time and effort. Building a storm shelter is the best way you can ensure the safety of your family. There are different kinds of storm shelters, but they all serve the same purpose. Depending on where you are building a shelter, the design will be different, and it will cost you a different amount of money and time for each design. If you want to build an adequate shelter that will not fail you when the storm hits, it is good that you get information about where you are living and the weather patterns of the place. You might be building a shelter that cannot stand the kind of storms that place experience or you might be spending too much time and money on a shelter that is not worth it.

After getting all the information you need, go ahead and decide the location of the shelter. Make sure the location is tested and certified before you go on and start building the shelter. Whether it is an underground shelter or a basement or even an exterior room, get it checked, tested and certified. In the USA there is the American Tornado Shelter Association that is a non-profit organization that provides the standards for storm and tornado shelters manufacturing.

After you get your location checked and verified, go ahead and build your shelter depending on the weather and all the other factors you may consider. After you are done building, make sure your shelter is equipped. The shelter should be equipped because, in the case of an emergency, there will be no time to bring all the necessary items to help you survive a storm or a tornado. You don’t even know how long it will last so you better have enough supplies.

There are companies that design and build storm shelters customized to fit your taste and preferences. Remember the shelter you are building is your safe room when the storm comes. Make sure that you don’t build a safe room that will fail you when you need it most. After building a storm shelter or a safe room, make sure you get a professional to test your shelter before the storm comes. It is good to get a company design and build your storm shelter to minimize the risks of failure. Don’t play games with the lives of your family.

The good thing with getting a company build a storm shelter for you is they will make sure all the materials they use are strong enough, and they have certified professionals to reinforce the shelter. Their shelters also go through rigorous testing by 6 firms like Texas Wind Science and Engineering Research Center. Here, they make sure the company delivers a good product to you, and they don’t joke around with your life.

Get ready for the storm by building yourself a shelter. It might seem like wastage of time or money but trust me; it can save your family’s lives.

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tornado Damage Repair

Tornado Season Planning

TORNADO PLANNING SAVES LIVES

A tornado is the most scaring weather pattern in the US. In the event of a tornado, how prepared you are Tornado Damagedetermines if you will survive or not. It is good to be aware and ready for what to do if a tornado hits wherever you are. One fact remains, everybody is at risk if they don’t do what is required of them to survive the tornado. A tornado is the most violent storm, and it can cause a lot of damage depending on how strong it is and where it hits. If you want to get ready for a tornado, it is good that you benchmark your preparedness in mind that the strongest and most violent tornado can hit.  Tornado Planning should be mandatory for every family.

If you want to get ready for a tornado, it is good you know the history of where you are and how often a storm or a tornado hits the place. This will help you get the necessary equipment ready for the tornado. If your area has a history of a series of tornados, it is good to get a NOAA Weather Radio with you all the time. Ensure you are getting correct weather information wherever you are.

It is good to know where to go in case a tornado strikes. If you hear there is a tornado, this means there is an imminent danger to both property and life. If you at home, go to your safe room and if you are outdoors, make sure you get to a sturdy shelter as soon as possible. If a tornado warning strikes when you are driving, buckle up and drive to the nearby shelter. Be always ready to go somewhere in case a storm strikes. At home or work, it is recommended that you run tornado drills to give people the timidness they need in case a tornado strikes.

Make sure your safe room is well secured, and you can safely reside there for a few days if the storm lasts for that long. There should be a place where you can run to get safe shelter just in case a tornado strikes wherever you are. Your safe room should be reinforced, and it should not have any windows. Also, make sure there are no hanging items that can become a projectile in the event of a storm endangering your life. The safe room should be in a basement or underground or an interior room inside your house that is reinforced and has no windows.

Maybe you live in a place surrounded by trees and some high natural fences. All these are great but in the event of a tornado, they can turn to be risky for your family. Get rid of diseased and damaged tree limbs from the high trees near your house. These will be the first to hit the house in case of a tornado.

Always watch out for tornado danger signs. Know your neighborhood tornado signs and get ready for anything. If you notice dark and green clouds gathering or a roaring noise, these are signs of a tornado. Get ready to go to the safe room. Safety should always come first and especially in the event of a tornado. Remember how prepared you are will determine if you are going to survive the tornado.

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