State Officials: Tornado Precautions Trump Social Distancing

Tuesday, April 28th 2020, 5:23 pm

Public safety officials say even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Oklahomans under the threat of a tornado should still seek shelter, even if that means violating social distancing guidelines.

“State and federal officials agree that your top priority should be to protect yourself from a potential tornado,” the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management said in a news release.

“Even if you can't continue to maintain that social distancing, have everybody wear masks and maybe gloves,” Oklahoma Red Cross Disaster Program Manager Mary Jane Coffman said. “Talk to folks about whether they've been in a compromised position or not and what they might need to do otherwise.”

If your family takes refuge in a public storm shelter, it’s important to check with them to make sure it’s still open. Hospitals across the city said they are not able to serve as shelters during the pandemic.

“If you haven't already, it's that time of year to be putting your plans in place have your supplies collected,” Coffman said.

The City of Oklahoma City reminds people to have a flashlight, water, food, a weather radio, first aid kit, medications, pet supplies and a face mask ready to go.

The Red Cross said in the event a disaster strikes, they will still be there to lend a hand. It just might look a little different.

“We are going to do our best to not use congregate shelters, which means traditionally, what people think of like putting everybody in a gym and helping make sure they have a safe place. We will use other means like maybe using hotel rooms or dorm rooms” Coffman said.