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What is the difference between a watch and a warning?

A tornado watch means that weather conditions will support the formation of a tornado and a tornado may occur in your area. Listen to local radio/television, or NOAA Weather Radio for information and advice.

A tornado warning means that a tornado has actually been sighted or has been indicated by radar and may strike your vicinity. Take action to protect yourself from being blown away, struck by falling objects, or injured by flying debris.


Take shelter

Your best protection is an underground shelter or substantial steel framed or reinforced concrete building.
If you are at home, go to an underground cellar or basement. Or go to a corner of your basement and take cover under a sturdy workbench or table, but be sure not to be directly under heavy appliances on an upper floor.

If you have no basement, take cover in the center of the house on the lowest floor, or take refuge in a small room such as a bathroom or closet.

Stay away from windows, which pose a threat of flying glass and debris.

Do not remain in a trailer or mobile home. They are very susceptible to damage from tornadoes. Take cover in a shelter or lie flat in a ground depression or ditch-line.

If you are in a car, DO NOT TRY TO OUTRUN A TORNADO! If one has been sighted near you, park your car immediately and seek refuge in a building, a shelter or a ditch.

Hazards presented during and after a tornado

  • Leaking gas lines, damaged or leaking gas propane containers, and leaking vehicle gas tanks may explode or ignite.
  • Debris can easily ignite, especially if electrical wires are severed.
  • Pools of water and even appliances can be electrically charged.
  • GENERATORS. Generators are often used during power outages. Generators that are not properly used and maintained can be very hazardous.
  • HEATING DEVICES. Alternative heating devices used incorrectly create fire hazards. Proper use and maintenance can decrease the possibility of a fire.
  • APPLIANCES. Appliances that emit smoke or sparks should be repaired or replaced.
  • COMBUSTIBLES. Look for combustible liquids like gasoline, lighter fluid, and paint thinner that may have spilled. Thoroughly clean the spill and place containers in a well-ventilated area. Keep combustible liquids away from the heat sources.
  • ELECTRICAL. Assume all wires on the ground are electrically charged. This includes cable TV feeds. Look for and replace frayed or cracked extension and appliance cords, loose prongs and plugs. Exposed outlets and wiring could present a fire and life safety hazard. Appliances that emit smoke or sparks should be repaired or replaced. Have a licensed electrician check your home for damage.
  • GAS LEAKS. Smell and listen for leaky gas connections. If you believe there is a gas leak, immediately leave the house and leave the door(s) open. Never strike a match. Any size flame can spark an explosion. Before turning the gas back on, have the gas system checked by a professional.
  • GENERATOR SAFETY. Follow the manufacture's instructions and guidelines when using generators.
    Use a generator or other fuel-powered machines outside the home, CO fumes are odorless and can quickly overwhelm you indoors. Use the appropriate sized and type power cords to carry the electric load. Overloaded cords can overheat and cause fires. Never run cords under rugs or carpets where heat might build up or damage to a cord may go unnoticed. Never connect generators to another power source such as power lines. The reverse flow of electricity or "backfeed" can electrocute an unsuspecting utility worker.
  • HEATING SAFETY. Kerosene heaters may not be legal in your area and should only be used where approved by authorities. Do not use the kitchen oven range to heat your home. In addition to being a fire hazard, it can be a source of toxic fumes. Alternative heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away. Make sure your alternative heaters have "tip switches." These "tip switches" are designed to automatically turn off the heater in the event they tip over. Only use the type of fuel recommended by the manufacturer and follow suggested guidelines. Never refill a space heater while it is operating or still hot. Refuel heaters only outdoors. Make sure wood stoves are properly installed, and at least 3 feet away from combustible materials. Ensure they have the proper floor support and adequate ventilation. Use a glass or metal screen in front of our fireplace to prevent sparks from igniting nearby carpets, furniture or other combustible items.
  • CANDLES. Be careful when using candles. Keep the flame away from combustible objects and out of the reach of children.
  • SMOKE ALARMS. Some smoke alarms may be dependent on your home's electrical service and could be inoperative during a power outage. Check to see if your smoke alarm uses a back-up battery and install a new battery at least once a year. Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home. All smoke alarms should be tested monthly. All batteries should be replaced with new ones at least once a year.
  • HYDRANT. If there is a fire hydrant near your home, keep it clear of debris for easy access by the fire department.

    About Longmont's Outdoor Emergency Warning System?

    What causes a tornado?

    For more information about emergency preparedness in Longmont, please call the City of Longmont, Office of Emergency Management at (303) 774-3793or contact us by email.

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