With the recent warming trend, we have seen some serious thunderstorms, hail and even a tornado that touched down in Dexter, Michigan, damaging over 100 homes.
This is very early in the year for tornadoes, but it can also show you that this could have easily hit the Farmington Hills area as well. Fortunately in Dexter, no deaths or serious injuries were reported, thanks in part to early warning notifications and the residents of that town being prepared ahead of time.
Are you prepared in the event of high winds or a tornado touching down in our city? If you don’t recognize some of the signs before a tornado strikes, you and your family could be at risk for serious injury or even death. Now would be a great time to brush up on your knowledge of tornadoes and severe weather and know what to do if a warning is issued for the Farmington Hills area.
The first thing to know is the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning.
A tornado watch is issued to alert people that weather conditions indicate that a tornado could develop in your area.
A tornado warning is issued when a tornado has actually been sighted or is indicated by radar.
A funnel cloud is a column of violently rotating winds extending down from a thunderstorm-like cloud that does not touch the ground.
In Michigan, we average about 16 tornadoes each year, and since 1950 they have caused 239 deaths. Most tornadoes occur in April, May, June and July and most often occur between the hours of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. They travel about five miles and are grounded for about 10 minutes. In extreme cases, they have been known to travel in excess of 100 miles. A typical tornado sustains winds between 71 and 125 miles per hour.
Clues a tornado may be forming - Watch for dark, often greenish skies. Look for what appears to be a dark wall cloud. Just before a tornado forms, there is a downpour of large hail. Also, listen for a loud roar, often referred to as the sound a freight train. Remember, a tornado can strike anytime, anyplace and more than once.
Where to take shelter – Head for the designated shelter area or a central area on the lowest level of your home or business. A basement offers the greatest safety. Seek shelter under sturdy furniture if possible. In homes without basements, take cover in the center part of your house, on the lowest floor in a small room such as a closet or bathroom. Stay away from all windows.
Mobile homes - You should leave this home immediately and take shelter in a prearranged substantial shelter area. If there is no shelter nearby, leave your trailer and lie flat in a ditch or ravine. Do not seek shelter under your mobile home.
While driving - Get out of your vehicle and take shelter in a nearby ditch or ravine. Do not continue driving and do not take shelter under your vehicle once you’ve stopped.
At work or school - Follow advanced plans to move to interior hallways or small rooms on the lowest floors of the building. Avoid areas with glass and wide, free span roofs.
Open country - Lie in a gully, ditch, or low spot in the ground and hold onto something on the ground if possible. Do not seek shelter in a damaged building as it may collapse.
Every tornado season, take time with your family and review areas you’ve designated as your primary shelter. Practice this by having everyone in the family go there in response to a tornado threat.
The national and state award-winning Farmington/Farmington Hills Emergency Preparedness Commission (EPC) urges residents and businesses to have a 72-hour disaster “Go Kit” which should contain items such as:
- Extra batteries
- Battery operated radio (AM 1650 for updates)
- First aid kit
- Can opener
- Canned food
- Bottled water
- Extra clothing
Go to fhready.com for more information.
After a tornado
- Turn on the radio or television for the latest emergency information.
- Stay out of damaged buildings.
- Return home only if authorities say it’s safe.
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
- Leave a building if you smell gas or chemical fumes. Clean up all spills involving medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids.
- Document the damage. Take pictures of the damage to the house and its contents for insurance purposes.
- Watch out for debris, especially broken glass, and downed power lines and gas line breaks.
- Cooperate with local officials.
It’s not a matter of if a disaster happens; it’s a matter of when. Being prepared can greatly reduce the danger and distress you and your family may face.
Lieutenant Denny Hughes is a fire and life safety educator with the . He may be reached at 248- 871-2823 or firstname.lastname@example.org.