Funnel cloud in the evening sky. Tornadoes can form in a moment’s notice, emphasizing the importance of being prepared. Photograph from NOAA.

Funnel cloud in the evening sky. Tornadoes can form in a moment’s notice, emphasizing the importance of being prepared. Photograph from NOAA.

A statewide tornado drill was implemented Wednesday, March 6 as part of Kentucky's Severe Weather Awareness Week. The week-long campaign offers information that could save your life during a somewhat dangerous season just around the corner.

Although the National Weather Service put out its information in February, you can never be too prepared. Getting together a plan of action ahead of time is critical said Terry Cole, Deputy Director of the Logan County Emergency Management.

Severe weather in the United States causes numerous deaths and injuries and billions of dollars of damage. In a typical year, more than 1,200 tornadoes occur throughout the United States and nearly 12,000 reports of wind and hail are received from law enforcement agencies and the public.

"Tornados hit without warning," said Cole. "They have no friends and they don't pick and choose. They can happen anywhere at any time without warning."

Cole mentions the tragedy that fell on Alabama last weekend leaving 23 people dead, including a six-year-old boy due to an EF-4 tornado with winds of 170 mph cutting a nearly a one-mile-wide path over at least 24 miles through Beauregard, Ala.

"The only thing you can do to help in case you find yourself in a tornado is to plan ahead of time where you are going to go for safety. Be prepared," said Cole.

One of the first things you need to do when making a plan is to ask yourself where is the safest place for me in my home? said Cole. Where would I take shelter if I were out and about and a tornado warning came across the radio or if the siren sounded?

Cole and director Rodney Harkleroad began emergency management in 1997 to aid emergency service agencies such as law enforcement, firefighters and EMS personnel during crisis situations in the county. Both men also serve on the Logan County Search & Rescue who work hand in hand with area agencies as well. The two organizations respond to anything that is harmeful to the community or the local environment. Tyler Scruggs has recently been deputized as a member of the group.

According to Kentucky Emergency Management, weather-related threats occur throughout the year from tornadoes, flooding, straight-line winds, lightning and winter storms. Every household should always be prepared to face these challenges.

Before a Tornado

Have a family tornado plan in place and practice a family tornado drill at least once a year.

Have a pre-determined place to meet after a disaster.

Learn the signs of a tornado: dark, greenish sky; large hail; dark, low clouds; and loud roaring sounds.

When a tornado watch is issued, practice your drill and check your safety supplies.

Increase your situational awareness by monitoring the weather on weather.gov, watching local TV, or listening to NOAA Weather Radio.

Flying debris is the greatest danger in tornadoes; so store protective coverings (e.g., mattress, sleeping bags, thick blankets, etc) in or next to your shelter space, ready to use on a few seconds notice.

Tornado rule of thumb: Put as many walls and floors between you and the tornado as possible! If you are planning to build a house, consider an underground tornado shelter or an interior "safe room."

In a mobile home: GET OUT! Go to a neighbors, underground shelter, or a nearby permanent structure. Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes.

During a Tornado

Wear a bicycle or motorcycle helmet to protect your head and neck or cover your head with a thick book.

In a house with a basement: Avoid windows. Get in the basement and under some type of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag. Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) and do not go under them. They may fall down through a weakened floor and crush you.

In a house without a basement, a dorm, or an apartment: Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, in a small interior room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down. A bath tub may offer a shell of partial protection. Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fail.

In a car or truck: If you are caught by extreme winds or flying debris, park the car as quickly and safely as possible -out of the traffic lanes. Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat, or other cushion if possible. If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave your car and lie in that area. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges.

In the open outdoors: lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can.

After a Tornado

Remain calm and alert, and listen to the radio or TV for instructions from authorities.

Keep your family together and wait for emergency personnel to arrive.

Carefully render aid to those who are injured.

Stay away from downed power lines.

Watch your step to avoid broken glass, nails, and other sharp objects.

Stay out of any heavily damaged houses or buildings.

Do not use matches or lighters, there might be leaking natural gas pipes or fuel tanks nearby.