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Prepare and stay aware

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By Jeff M. Hardison

BRONSON - "Prepare and stay aware! The Florida spring tornado season is upon us," Levy County Emergency Management Director Mark Johnson said on Feb. 6.

The day before, dozens of tornadoes ripped through the southern United States, killing more than 50 people and injuring hundreds of others, according to reports.

Know the threat of hazardous weather exists, Johnson said. Prepare for potential problems caused by these climactic events, he said, by having a weather radio and a disaster kit. Know what to do when dangerous weather strikes, he added.

For people who are able to connect with the Internet, Johnson recommends they visit www.levydisaster.com and www.floridadisaster.org.

The state site allows the public to enter information to know what is needed for individualized disaster kits. The state website also provides a place to list contact information.

Hazardous Weather Awareness Week is Feb. 2-9 in Florida. On Feb. 2, 2007, three tornadoes killed 21 people and caused damage in excess of $200 million, according to a proclamation from Gov. Charlie Crist.

Having a weather alert radio, Johnson said, is advisable because tornadoes sometimes strike when people are asleep. If a tornado is coming, Johnson advises people to find an internal room in their house.

If there are no safe rooms, go into the bathtub and pull something like a mattress over yourself, he said.

If a person is outside when a tornado hits, Johnson said the best advice is to lie on the ground because most people die from being hit by flying debris.

"Do not try to outrun a tornado with your car," he said.

Johnson said the best thing to do now is to stock up as if it was hurricane season. If tornadoes knock out electric and water service, then people will need to be prepared to deal with those problems.

Always keep a rotating stock of water, non-perishable food, batteries, first aid supplies and the like, he said.

TORNADO

SAFETY ACTIONS

HOMES

* Monitor NOAA Weather Radio.

* When a tornado watch is issued, be prepared to take action.

* When a tornado warning is issued, or a tornado is imminent, move to a small interior room away from windows.

* Consider constructing a tornado safe room in or adjacent to your home.

TORNADO

SAFETY ACTIONS

MOBILE HOMES

* Monitor NOAA Weather Radio.

* Have a plan of where to go during a tornado threat-a nearby pre-identified safe structure within walking distance.

* When a tornado watch is issued, be prepared to take action.

* When conditions warrant, move to the pre-identified safe structure.

* If you live in a mobile or manufactured home park, get together with other residents and the park owner/manager to designate safe shelter areas in the park or community.