It is not enough to know what to do and where to go in case of severe weather. Families also need an accurate read on weather conditions, especially when dangerous storms are brewing.
The good news is, with technology, weather forecasts and warnings easily can be called up with the swipe of a finger or click of the mouse. The trick, though, is sorting through all the available sources and identifying the most credible ones, said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist.
“Obviously you can check the traditional sources like television or radio broadcasts for regular updates, but you have other options, too, for getting accurate, real-time information about the weather,” Peek said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration indicated studies show local commercial television broadcasts are the most common way families learn about severe weather watches and warnings.
However, a digital weather radio with battery back up is another good source of information for families, said Sonya McDaniel, Pottawatomie County Family and Consumer Science Extension Educator.
“Weather radios aren’t used as frequently as television and radio broadcasts for updates on severe weather, but they’re just as reliable, especially in the overnight hours or when you are in a remote location,” McDaniel said.
Cell phones, smartphones, tablets and other devices also can be helpful in keeping an eye on threatening storms. For instance, the National Weather Service provides timely updates via its website (www.weather.gov), app and social media outlets.
Some local news stations also will post up-to-date weather information online and share details via various social media platforms.
Warning sirens are another source of critical weather information. They are designed to alert anyone outdoors that potentially hazardous weather is nearby.
“It’s important to know when the sirens are activated in your area because each community’s policies can be different,” McDaniel said. “Take cover immediately if you hear the sirens and don’t try to outrun the storm.”
Finally, even with all the technology available, sometimes a heads up from a friend or family member is the most effective way to encourage someone to take cover from potentially dangerous weather.
“Both NWS and social science research shows that a warning from a friend or family member is the key to getting someone to seek safe shelter, so if you know of loved ones in the path of a storm, go ahead and reach out to them,” McDaniel.
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