The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 3, 2013

Families and communities need to discuss importance of shelter from severe storms

Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — November may not seem like the time to talk about severe weather, but we think anytime is a good time to talk about your safety.

Now is a good time to think about and discuss a safety plan for your family in the event of severe weather. It’s better to have a plan in place before you need it rather than try to come up with a plan while severe storms are threatening.

One of the biggest and most important things to discuss is shelter during bad weather.

A lot of talk centers on whether communities should have public shelters or whether the emphasis should be on private shelters, with people taking their own precautions. There are arguments for and against each.

We tend to agree with the arguments for private shelters. As some officials said, too often people don’t seek shelter until it’s too late. Hopping into the car and trying to drive to a public shelter is not the thing to do when a tornado is bearing down on you. That is a recipe for disaster.

Rather, as many emergency managers say, it’s better to seek shelter where you are — unless it’s in your vehicle or a mobile home, then you need to seek shelter immediately.

Some places do have shelters they open to the public in the event of bad weather.

In Enid, Central Christian Church offers its basement, which can accommodate 150 people. In many communities, schools have safe rooms they also open to the public.

The key, though, is to not wait. When a tornado warning is issued, it’s too late to try to head to shelter somewhere else. That’s when you need to do what you can where you are at.

We’ve all heard the advice: Go to the lowest level of your house, in a center room and take something to cushion yourself from debris.