The National Weather Service is forecasting “significant” severe weather across parts of the state tonight into tomorrow and Iowans are being urged to prepare for heavy rains, flash flooding, strong winds, and possible tornadoes.
Dan Cataldi, with the American Red Cross in Des Moines, says it’s critical for people to have reliable notification system, especially since the storms are expected to strike overnight. “That’s when tornadoes can often be the most deadly because people are sleeping,” Cataldi says. “The outdoor warning systems are not necessarily designed to wake people up in the middle of the night.”
He suggests purchasing a NOAA Weather Radio or downloading the free American Red Cross Tornado App for smart phones. The app sends notifications when thunderstorm and tornado watches are issued. “When a tornado warning is issued, a loud notification goes off…to make sure it wakes you up in the middle of the night. It informs you that a tornado warning has been issued and it’s time to take cover,” Cataldi says.
Families should also prepare for tornadoes by developing and practicing an emergency plan and assembling an emergency kit. “Things like extra food and water, batteries, radios, and flashlights,” Cataldi suggests. “And any medications that might be needed, so if an event does happen that requires people to be in a shelter for a while, they’ll have the necessary items to do so.”
The safest place in a home during a tornado, according to Cataldi, is a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor away from windows.