Missouri Tornado Safety Information

St. Louis residents are again bracing for a new round of tornadoes hammering the Midwest.  The recent devastation in Joplin Missouri has residents across the state of Missouri on edge.  Today Missouri saw in excess of 69 separate tornadoes.  The increasing frequency of extreme weather in Missouri mandates that all residents become familiar with tornado safety precautions.

Missouri residents should be familiar with the following tornado safety precautions:

Tornado Early Warning Indicators:

  • One of the most helpful resources before a tornado is preparation.  Monitoring local radio stations and news outlets will provide up-to-date information on local tornado and safety precautions.  It is important you have a battery operated radio on hand in the event your power dies.
  • An approaching debris cloud can indicate a tornado is close, even without a funnel touching the ground.  If a debris cloud is spotted, take cover immediately.
  • Pay close attention and listen for tornado sirens. Tornado sirens are one of the main public warning systems for approaching disaster.
  • Pay attention to local warning systems.  A tornado “watch” means a tornado is possible.  A tornado “warning” means a tornado has been spotted and you should act immediately.
  • Pay attention to the “calm before the storm” effect.  Tornadoes often tail at the edge of a thunderstorm.  For this reason, it is not uncommon to experience clear skies and no wind immediately before the tornado hits.
  • Become familiar with your work or schools tornado safety plan.
  • Develop a tornado plan for you and your family.

To protect yourself from a tornado, you should immediately:

  • Run to a safe and secure room.  You should try to relocate to the basement, cellar, or the lowest room of the building.  You should try to find a room that has no windows and is within the interior of the building.
  • If you are in a building without a basement or cellar, it is advised that you gather in the hallway, or other windowless room.
  • If possible, try to hold on to a heavy secure object, take cover under a table, or in a windowless bathroom.
  • If you are in a mobile home or trailer, you should seek shelter elsewhere in a secure location.  You should act well in advance of the storm to prevent travel during the chaos.
  • If you are unable to find shelter in a building, or in an automobile, you should immediately exit the vehicle and find a low lying area or ditch.  It is extremely important you watch for flooding and cover your head with your arms.  Tornadoes produce deadly wind speeds which  hurl debris in every direction.

When the tornado has passed it is important to be aware of the following:

  • Downed power lines present extreme danger.  Stay away from all power liens following a tornado and be cautious of electricity when sifting through damaged property.
  • Candles are a dangerous source of light after a tornado.  Piled debris is easily flammable.  If possible, you should use battery powered lanterns until the power is restored.
  • Be mindful of the dangers presented by broken glass, rusty nails, and other objects in scattered debris.
  • Corporate with local officials and help the volunteer effort.

Homes destroyed by tornadoes leave countless families homeless.  Missouri state parks are waiving camping fees for tornado victims across the state if you are unable to find temporary shelter.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency has additional information available for tornado victims.

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