Last week, five tornados touched down in New Jersey damaging dozens of homes. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured or killed.
This week the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management is recommending all Garden State residents immediately put together a tornado emergency plan.
Laura Connolly, a public information officer for the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, said this means “build a kit, an emergency kit for your home if you have to shelter in place, include a Go Bag in case you need to leave on short notice.”
She said you should also develop and finalize a family communication plan “in case you need to evacuate, in case you’re not together when disaster strikes.”
Connolly said tornados strike quickly and very often you don’t have much time to do anything except flee for your life.
Across the nation tornados will cause 80 deaths and 1,500 injuries a year, according to the National Weather Service.
She said it’s important to make sure you’ve got updated phone numbers and work or school addresses for all family members and you should also decide on an emergency meet up location.
She recommended you pick spots “inside of the town and outside the town so that if you have to reunite somewhere everyone knows where that meet up spot is in case cell phones aren’t working or texting isn’t working.”
She said if there’s a serious threat of a tornado and you’re in a building that doesn’t have a basement, it’s important to know what the best options are to stay safe.
“Get to a small interior room on the lowest level, stay away from windows, doors and outside walls,” she said
And if you’re outside, “do not get under an overpass or bridge, you’re actually safer in a low flat location. And watch out for any debris that can cause injury.
If you’re driving and a tornado warning is posted in your area, “do not try to outrun a tornado in a vehicle, if you are in a car or outdoors and cannot get to a building, cover your head and neck with your arms and cover your body with a coat if possible.”
She noted one of the main causes of injury during a tornado is flying debris.
She said the National Weather Service will issue tornado watches and warnings based on data collected from their Mount Holly and Upton, New York facilities.
Connolly suggested monitoring weather conditions and listening to local news if severe weather approaches because “every second counts when it comes to short notice events like a tornado.”
According to New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow, there have been 182 confirmed tornado touchdowns in the Garden State over the past 71 years, including four F-3 rated tornados with wind speeds of 158 mph or greater.
Two of those twisters, in Ocean County in 1983 and in Somerset County in 1990 each caused more than $2.5 million in damage.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com
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