Whiteman AFB Tornado Preparedness

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cassidy T. Knight
  • 509th Civil Engineer Squadron

The state of Missouri is known to be one of the U.S. states that is at greater risk of tornadoes. According to Storm Aware Missouri, peak tornado season is March thru May.

There are two terms that need to be understood in order to successfully prepare for this natural disaster—a tornado watch and a tornado warning.

A tornado watch is issued when conditions are favorable for the formation of tornadoes. A tornado warning is issued when a funnel cloud or tornado has been sighted or indicated on weather radar. When a tornado warning has been issued, Whiteman AFB will alert the populace of an incoming storm by the activation of a three to five minute steady tone siren, followed by a giant voice message and an emergency mass notification through the AtHoc system.

If you reside off base or are visiting the local community during a tornado warning, make sure to sign up for the local community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio will also provide you with emergency alerts. If your community has sirens, then make sure you are familiar with the warning tone by checking with the communities Emergency Management website.

No matter how you receive a tornado warning please respond by taking cover.

Each operationally active building on Whiteman AFB has a designated tornado shelter room identified and labeled with tornado shelter signs. The Professional Development Center, Missions End, The Youth Center, Lodging and Fitness Center, can also serve as natural disaster shelters.

If members are unable to access a natural disaster shelter, locate the nearest interior room or hallway in a building on the lowest floor level possible. It is important to avoid rooms or spaces with windows due to the chance of glass breakage that can cause injury. Once a room is located, remain under durable furniture and keep your head and neck covered until the storm passes.

If you are in a vehicle when a tornado warning is issued, drive away from the tornado to the closest building. If you are unable to drive away from the storm, remain seated in the vehicle with your seatbelt fastened, and protect yourself by placing your head in between your legs underneath the window line. Do not take shelter under an overpass, the narrow channel may bottleneck the wind causing increased wind speed.

If you are outside when a tornado warning is issued, locate the nearest building and follow the building shelter guidance. If no guidance exists, follow the steps of finding an interior room, take cover with large objects, and stay away from windows. If no building is in sight, lie flat on the ground and cover your head with your hands and watch out for debris.

The critical action after sheltering is accountability. After the tornado has passed, personnel are to report their names to individuals who are manning the shelter. If you are not in a primary shelter, it is highly encouraged to make contact with representing leadership. Ensure safety precautions are followed such as avoiding any electrical interaction, such as sparks, broken or frayed wires, and staying off the roads. If departing from your shelter location is necessary, watch for fallen objects weakened roads, damaged buildings, and any downed electrical wires.

For more information and tips on preparing for a disaster, please visit. www.beready.af.mil.