As Oklahoma enters the peak of severe storm season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, practicing social distance and preventing the spread of COVID-19 bring added complications to taking shelter from severe weather. However, state and federal officials agree that your top priority should be to protect yourself from a potential tornado.
Now is the time to explore the best options to keep you safe from severe weather as well as limit your exposure to the virus. Don’t wait until a tornado warning is issued to make a plan.
Get Ready Now
Make your severe weather plan now and identify the best storm refuge available. Determine if your home can provide you with a safe location to take refuge, such as a basement, closet, bathroom, interior hallway or other interior room with no windows on the lowest level of the house or building. If you cannot take refuge in your home, discuss sheltering with neighbors, friends, or family.
We recommend sheltering from tornadoes inside your home when possible. If you don’t have a below-ground storm shelter, well-constructed homes and buildings provide life-saving protection from 98 percent of Oklahoma’s tornadoes. For more information on how to Get Ready, click here.
Public Storm Shelters
Many communities have announced that they will NOT open public storm shelters during the pandemic.
If your family typically takes refuge in a public storm shelter, first check with your community shelter managers to ensure the shelter will still be open and if there are any special considerations to plan for during the COVID-19 pandemic. This information can be found through their websites and official social media accounts or by contacting your local emergency management agency. Visit the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management’s website for more information.
The best way to prepare for severe weather during a pandemic is to stay informed of the latest weather forecast from the National Weather Service and local media as well as the latest recommendations regarding COVID-19 from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Oklahoma State Department of Health and other local authorities.
Wherever you choose to shelter from a tornado, take as many precautions as possible to inhibit the spread of COVID-19 as best as you can, including the CDC recommendations to wear a cloth face covering and maintain social distancing.