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      Red Cross Urging Severe Weather Preparedness

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      As summer approaches, the American Red Cross is urging individuals everywhere to keep severe weather on their minds and come up with a plan for when it strikes.

      As with any disaster, preparation can bethe difference between life or death. The Red Cross recommends that individualsand families prepare for tornadoes by:

      • Creating and practicing a Home Tornado Plan: Pick a "safe room" or uncluttered area without windows where family members and pets could seek shelter on the lowest floor possible: a basement, a center hallway, a bathroom or a closet. Putting as many walls between you and the outside provides additional protection.
      • Assembling a Emergency Preparedness Kit: Kits should contain a first aid kit and essential medications, foods that don't require cooking or refrigeration and manual can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries and other emergency items for the whole family.

      • Heeding Storm Warnings: Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information. A tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible in your area. When a tornado WARNING is issued, go to the safe room you picked to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects. If you are outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building. If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head to the nearest building for safety. If you are outside and there are no buildings, lie flat in a low lying area or ditch and cover your head with your arms and hands.
      • Preparing for High Winds: Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased and damaged limbs, then strategically removing branches so that wind can blow through. Install permanent shutters on your windows and add protection to the outside areas of sliding glass doors. Strengthen garage doors and unreinforced masonry. Move or secure lawn furniture, outdoor decorations or ornaments, trash cans, hanging plants and anything else that can be picked up by wind and become a projectile.

      The American RedCross also has a tornado app available for download to help keep you safe. It gives users instant access to local real-time information so they know what to do before, during and after a tornado.

      The free app includesa high-pitched siren and "tornado warning!" alert that signals when a NOAAtornado warning has been issued. This feature allows users to make criticaldecisions and to take actions to help keep themselves and their loved ones safeeven in the middle of the night. An "all clear!" alert lets users know when atornado warning has expired or has been canceled.

      Other features of theapp include:

      • Location-based NOAA tornado, severe thunderstorm and flood watchand warning alerts;
      • Enhanced weather maps and information provided by WeatherUnderground, a digital brand of The Weather Company;
      • One touch "I'm safe" messaging that allows users to broadcastreassurance to family and friends via social media outlets that they are out ofharm's way;
      • Preloaded content that gives users instant access to criticalaction steps, even without mobile connectivity;
      • Toolkit with flashlight, strobe light and audible alarm; and
      • Locations of open Red Cross shelters.

      "If a tornado isthreatening your area, listen for alerts and warnings, grab your emergencypreparedness kit and head to your designated safe area," Labellarte said.

      To find the tornado app or other Red Cross apps, search 'American Red Cross' in your app store or go to redcross.org/mobileapps.

      For more information on tornado preparedness, contact theNebraska/SW Iowa Region of the American Red Cross at (402) 343-7700, visit www.redcross.org/neiaor call 1-800 RED CROSS.

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