Severe weather: Did you know? Ways to stay safer

Ponca City Now - May 1, 2015 2:40 pm

Weather is one of those topics that generate a lot of interest and mystery, especially in Oklahoma.

As a result. there are a lot of old wives’ tales and inaccurate beliefs related to weather. For instance, did you know . . .

The sirens in Ponca City are an OUTDOOR warning system. The sirens are there to alert people who are outdoors and don’t have access to other notifications. You should not rely on them for warning inside your home. Instead, get a weather radio. Ponca City Emergency Management will be happy to program it for you.

There are no public shelters in Ponca City. There are no structures in Ponca City that meet FEMA standards for severe weather shelters. In addition, traveling during severe weather is much more dangerous than taking shelter in your home. Identify the safest location in your home — which will be a small interior room with no windows — and cover yourself with blankets, pillows, helmets, etc. to protect yourself from storm debris.

According to data collected by Storm Prediction Center and National Weather Service, only three tornadoes have touched down in the city limits of Ponca City. But based on that same data, Kay County is number three in the state for number of tornadoes overall. Most of these have occurred in the month of May, followed by April and then June.

You can survive a tornado above ground. Even taking shelter in a bathroom or closet of your home, your chance of survival is 97 percent. The only exception to this rule is sheltering in a mobile home. If you live in a mobile home, make plans to take shelter elsewhere.

There is nothing magical about a bathroom as far as sheltering is concerned. To shelter in your home, find a location in the center of the structure with no windows or outside walls. In your home, a closet may be the best place to take shelter.

Trying to drive away from or outrun a tornado is a bad idea. Cars are one of the most dangerous places you can be during severe weather. In general, driving during severe weather is very dangerous. Tornadoes can move at up to 70 mph and can change directions without warning, and you could find yourself in the storm path. In addition, vehicles can easily be crushed by storm debris.

Do you need more reasons?

Since 1905 there have been only 13 F/EF 5 tornadoes in Oklahoma.

You should have more than one method to receive severe weather warnings. Options include sirens, weather radios, and telephone alerts. Phone alerts are available for any cell phone that can receive text messages.

Social media and the Internet can also be helpful, but these should not be your primary source of information, and you should make sure you select trustworthy sites.

For more information, contact Paula Cain, Emergency Management Director, 767-0380


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