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Tornado season is here

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Amanda Currier
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing
On March 13, Team McConnell will undergo a natural disaster response exercise.

The exercise will test the base's ability to react in the event of a tornado. It will not only be for servicemembers and Department of Defense civilians, but also for retirees and family members on McConnell.

During the exercise, McConnell's exercise evaluation team will primarily assess the effectiveness of the base's emergency notification systems. The EET will also evaluate Team McConnell members' ability to shelter-in-place and each unit's capability to account for its members in an emergency situation.

Tornados can be a very real threat in Kansas. On April 26, 1991, a tornado tore through McConnell. It destroyed 21 buildings on the main side of base and 120 residential units in the base housing area. No one on base was killed, but some people were injured.

Servicemembers, civilians, retirees and their family members at McConnell should use the exercise as an opportunity to personally evaluate how prepared they would be in the event a tornado actually hit the base.

In the event of a possible tornado, Team McConnell members should follow these procedures from the Air Force Disaster Response Force:

Tornado watch procedures:
- Notify all personnel or family members a tornado watch has been issued.
- Secure all windows (close and lock them).
- Close all curtains and blinds.
- Tie down any loose equipment or move it indoors.
- Monitor radios and televisions for weather updates
- Use common sense and good judgment
- Be prepared to take shelter if a tornado warning is issued

Tornado Warning procedures:
- A three to five minute steady siren should sound over the base's giant voice system.
- If inside, go to the lowest level in the building.
- If possible, go to the center of an interior room in the building.
- Take cover under a table or desk.
- If outside, try to take cover in a building.
- Take cover in a ditch or low-lying area.
- Cover head with arms.
- Never try to out-drive a tornado, instead take cover in a shelter of ditch.

Look for more extensive tornado safety coverage in upcoming editions of the e-Contrails.