The Amarillo/Potter/Randall Office of Emergency Management along with the Amarillo National Weather Service will be conducting a mock tornado drill at 10am on March 6. Local businesses, organizations, schools and families are urged to take advantage of this opportunity to practice protective actions in the event of a large tornado coming your way. How effective are your emergency plans? Will you get the warning? Do your employees or families know where they would go to take shelter? How effective are your accountability procedures? We want to make sure you and your family have multiple means to receive warning. Getting warned and knowing where to go is half the battle.
How will I be warned? Take some time now to ensure you will get warned and have multiple ways to get warned in case a system fails for one reason or another. Some ways are through: NOAA Weather Radio, EAS alerts, cable cut in, outdoor warning sirens, local media, smart phone apps, social media, voice call alerts, etc..
When will the sirens be activated? The Office of Emergency Management will activate the Outdoor Warning Sirens on a steady tone for 5 minutes when a Tornado Warning is in effect, a funnel/tornado has been sighted by an official spotter, and/or a tornado has been radar-indicated. When sounded, you should immediately move to shelter and listen to local radio or television stations for emergency warning information. Our office currently operates 91 outdoor warning sirens that are designed to alert people who are outdoors of a potential emergency in the community. Outdoor Warning Sirens are NOT designed to be heard indoors.
Are there Public Community Shelters? In Amarillo there’s no place for the public to go that’s sanctioned by the city. The problem is the size of Amarillo makes it harder to keep everyone safe. Part of that is that our community is so much bigger and more spread out. There’s a real risk if people drive to shelter when the warning is issued and they will be put into a higher risk situation than if they just taken shelter in their own home or own location. Wind speeds of less than 100 mph can easily flip a car and there have been numerous cases of vehicles being carried up, dropped, and more commonly penetrated by flying debris. Over a third of the people killed by the Mid-May 2008 tornado outbreak died in a vehicle.
Where should I go if a tornado threatens? The best place to seek shelter is in a basement, storm shelter, or saferoom. If one is not available, use a small interior room, bathroom, closet, or hallway on the ground floor of your home or business. Mobile homes offer little protection in a tornado. If you do live in a mobile home, find a sturdy building nearby.