Preparing for Severe Weather - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Preparing for Severe Weather

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Addie Olson

aolson@myabc5.com

@addieolson

A tornado siren near Valley High School didn't work during a routine test today.

"We have a computer program we'll analyze as soon as we get back to the station," said West Des Moines Fire Chief Don Cox. "It will tell us whether it's a battery problem or the power's been shut off to it. We'll get it corrected probably today."

They got the problem fixed almost immediately, but technology isn't always predictable. It's important to have a back up source for weather warnings.

"We really want to emphasize that the most important thing for people to have is weather alert radios," said Cox. "The sirens are not designed to alert you when you're inside a building, only outside." 

"Your cell phone offers a good way to get warnings these days, the Internet, there are a lot of ways to get a storm warning," said Jeff Johnson, a Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Johnston. "The important thing is to know what to do with it once you get the warning."

He said the key to being prepared once you get a severe weather warning is having a plan. Have a basement or designated interior room ready to take cover.

The Red Cross recommends having a safety kit ready to go. Some things you might find helpful include batteries, a flashlight, water and food.

Even though spring is just beginning, it's important to be prepared now.

"The fact is we do average 47 tornados a year in Iowa, and I haven't seen a year yet that we don't have any, so we have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best," Johnson said.

Red Cross State Response Officer, Dan Cataldi agreed.

"The tornados are coming, we know that, it's just a matter of where they hit and whether we need to respond and help people."

The Red Cross also recommends keeping insurance policies in a storm preparation kit, in case they're necessary for any potential damages.

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