Tornadoes may seem like something out of Kansas, but they’re a threat to Greater Williamsburg, too.
“Even though tornadoes aren’t frequent, they’re one of our most common threats,” said Sara Ruch, emergency manager for James City County.
From 1995-2015, there were five recorded tornados of varying intensity on the Fujita scale, which measures a tornado’s severity, Ruch said.
When severe storms roll in, Ruch said it is important to pay attention to TV, radio and weather forecasts because a severe storm of any kind could spawn a tornado.
If a tornado should touch ground, Ruch said that the safest location in a home or office is in an interior room with no windows and few electrical outlets, such as a bathroom. The goal is to minimize the amount of wind that can get through and cause damage or injury.
For residents who live in mobile homes, Ruch suggests finding the closest sturdy structure, such as a community center building.
James City County government buildings also have signs within that indicate where to go to find a tornado-safe location.
Once the storm is over, it’s time to deal with the aftermath.
“It is always good to be prepared,” Ruch said. “When something like a tornado hits, you’ll want to know what to do.”
To be ready for an emergency like a severe storm, Ruch said it is a good idea to have a kit prepared with items such as flashlights, batteries and enough food to last at least three days. She also recommends supplying whistles for every person in a household because if the structure collapses, the victim will be able to make noise louder than a voice if they need to be found.
Ruch also suggests planning a meeting spot among family members so there is a location to reconvene after an incident.
Another good idea is to have an out-of-state contact to relay safety news because often the phone lines in an affected area can be overloaded with calls, Ruch said. Having a designated person who lives outside the area is important so there is someone available to tell about the safety and location of loved ones.
For more information on emergency preparedness, visit the Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s website.