Monday, March 26, 2012

Listen, Act and Live!

By Tod Pritchard
Emergency Preparedness Coordinator
Wisconsin Emergency Management

April 19, 2012… 1:45pm. Sirens will wail. Radio and TV stations will interrupt programming. NOAA Weather Radios will go off. What’s going on? It is the annual statewide Tornado drill. And for the first time broadcasters across the state will be joining schools, business and families in the annual test to prepare for Wisconsin’s severe storm season.

Wisconsin’s Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week is April 16-20. Through media interviews and public service announcements we’re trying to get a single, life-saving message out to everyone… Listen, Act and Live! Listen to the tornado watches and warnings, act by seeking shelter when you hear a tornado may be on its way, doing both can help you live through the danger. A study done by the National Weather Service following the Joplin, Missouri tornado last year is truly an eye-opener. Many of the 161 lives lost could have been saved if people took action right way. Unfortunately many folks wasted time by trying to re-confirm the warnings and not seeking shelter immediately.

Joplin, Missouri: EF-5 tornado kills 161 people

If you go to the ReadyWisconsin website (  you will view tornado survival stories from Wisconsin. The details of their experiences may be different but their message is the same… get an emergency weather radio in your home, office and school. The early warning can save your life. Emergency radios immediately alert you of severe weather and tornadoes headed your way. Then, tell us your survival story. Just go to You may win an emergency weather radio for your tale.

There are many myths about tornadoes which are false and could be life threatening. Here’s one I hear all the time: When traveling by shelter under an overpass as a
tornado approaches.

Seeking shelter under an overpass is more dangerous than standing in an open field while a tornado is approaching. When a tornado passes over an overpass, winds are funneled under the bridge thereby increasing the velocity. The same phenomena can be experienced by standing between two buildings on a windy day. The best place to seek shelter while traveling is in a sturdy building. If no building is available, lie flat on the ground and cover your head or stay in your vehicle with seat belts fastened. Tornadoes do not follow terrain features exactly so chances are if the tornado comes directly toward your will pass right over you. Be wary however...debris tends to collect in lows spots such as culverts and ditches...and flash flooding may be possible as well.
Here is another one: To minimize damage to your all the windows prior to
a tornado striking it to equalize the pressure inside and prevent it from exploding...
While tornadoes do have incredible pressure changes associated within them...if a tornado strikes your house directly...the winds and flying debris alone will damage it severely anyway. All homes have the ability to equalize their pressure inside...since no house is 100 percent air-tight. By opening windows you allow no chance of the window
shielding you from debris outside which may cause bodily harm...and it wastes precious time you need to take cover.
For more information on severe storms and tornado preparedness, please go to our website:  And remember, Listen, Act and Live!

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