Tornado sheltering guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic
With the threat of severe weather across South Louisiana and Southwest Mississippi this weekend, it is imperative to have a plan ready before the event. Has this plan changed amid the COVID pandemic?
The first step is having and knowing your plan. If your home has a foundation, go to the lowest level of your house and into an interior room without windows. The best place is underground, so head to the basement if you have one. If you are in a mobile or manufactured home, find the nearest building with a foundation and shelter in place there. Again, make sure there are no windows and preferably two walls between you and the outside. Make sure to already have this plan in place, so that may mean discussing with neighbors, friends, or family prior to severe weather. If your community has shelters, make sure they are operating during the pandemic. A number to always remember is 2-1-1, that is manned 24/7 to offer critical health and human services that are available in your community. You can find out more details at louisiana211.org.
Many communities have announced that they will not open public storm shelters during the pandemic. If you rely on public shelters like school, stores, or community facilities, determine if that shelter will be available during the COVID-19 pandemic. It would also be beneficial to begin following certain social media accounts that would provide pertinent information about severe weather and storm preparation and response. This would include local media, meteorologists, local National Weather Service offices, Sheriff and Police departments, hospitals, and parish emergency managers.
Today is the day to get your severe weather plan in place. Make sure to have accessibility to multiple trusted sources for monitoring the threat of severe and to be prepared to proceed to your shelter when a tornado warning has been issued. If your shelter is not in your home and you need to travel, make sure that it is open (whether it is public or a neighbor), and that you complete your journey before the warning has been issued for your area.
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