Four steps have to happen to stay safe in a tornado:
1. An accurate warning is issued from the National Weather Service
2. You hear the warning
3. You know what to do
4. You have a safe place to go
If any of these four steps fail, your chances of injury or death increase dramatically. Almost every tornado that touches down in the U.S. has a warning as or before it strikes. So, how do you never miss another warning? Here’s are a few possibilities…
1. Weather Radio – These special radios relay warnings from the National Weather Service straight to your radio on your beside table or in the kitchen. There are even portable models you can take with you while you are out gardening or take with you in your car. Normally, the radio will wait quietly for a warning and will automatically alarm when your county is included in a warning. The biggest downside to a weather radio is that even if a fraction of the county is officially under a warning, a weather radio cannot tell. That means you will receive warnings for your county even if they don’t include your home address. Weather radios can be purchased at most electronics stores, Wal-Mart, Walgreens and Kroger stores across the country. They can also be purchased online. Make sure you purchase one with the Specific Area Message Encoding (S.A.M.E.) function. This allows you to program the radio to alert only for your county.
2. Weather Smartphone App – There are several weather alert apps which range from the difficult to easy to use and from free to more than $10 in price. In my opinion, the best ones are the most user-friendly but tend to cost more. MyWarn and iMap Weather Radio are two excellent options. Both use GPS navigation to deliver your desired warnings only if your location is included. MyWarn has the simplest interface that I’ve seen and is perfect for someone who just wants to know whether they need to take cover or not. Other apps which will notify you with warning information but may be a bit more cumbersome to set up are: WeatherUSA, NOAA Weather Alert (free), Weather Alert USA, Weather Alert, and StormShield. Many others exist as well. You can find them by searching Weather Alerts in the app store. Also, many local t.v. stations offer apps which may or may not send you alerts. Make sure that the one you find will notify you with alerts even if the app is not open. Not all do and that feature is imperative. You don’t want to miss the next warning for your area just because an app isn’t open.
3. Cellphone Texts – There are several sources for warning information that are provided through texts including offerings from the Weather Channel, WeatherCall and others. As with apps, many television stations offer some sort of weather alert via texts; just visit their websites to see if they do. Now, for free, Flash Flood Warnings and Tornado Warnings are about to be sent via text to your cell phone through a government system called Wireless Emergency Alerts or (WEA). You don’t have to sign up for this service and most new phone which are sold today are automatically WEA enabled. Read more about this free service HERE.
4. Traditional phone call service – WeatherCall is a service which will call you on up to three phones if your home address is located in a warned area. This is another great service for the Southeast which has such a high incidence of nighttime tornadoes. You NEED a notification system which will awaken you and give you time to find shelter. At least one television station in most t.v. markets offer WeatherCall. In Nashville, NewsChannel 5 offers it. Read more about WeatherCall HERE.
Now, there’s no reason to ever miss another warning.
How do you receive your weather warnings? Are there any apps you like?