10 steps to keep your home and family safe during a tornado

Tornadoes can develop during any season of the year. In southern states, peak tornado conditions occur in March through May, while peak months in northern states are during the summer. In some cases, they can occur with little or no warning, bringing with them winds that can exceed 250 miles per hour. Every year, there are approximately 70 fatalities and 1,500 injuries from tornadoes.

 If your home uses propane, here are 10 simple steps you can take to keep your family safe and avoid potential dangers.

1. Create an emergency preparedness plan and review it with everyone in your home. Post a list with contact information for your local Ferrellgas office and emergency services along with instructions for turning off propane, electricity, and water. If you do need to turn off your propane, contact a service technician to inspect your propane system prior to turning it back on.

2. Consider installing UL-listed propane gas detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. These detectors provide you with an additional measure of security. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding installation, location, and maintenance.

3. If severe weather is in your area, listen to your local authorities, or television and radio stations, for instructions on the appropriate course of action to take. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes can develop and move quickly. Have a battery-powered radio available in the event that the power goes out.

4. If a tornado is approaching, immediately take action. If you are inside your home or building, go to the lowest level possible such as a basement or a storm cellar. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level. If you are in a mobile home, trailer, or vehicle, get out immediately and seek shelter in a sturdy building or storm shelter.

5. After a tornado has struck, use extreme caution and take the time to carefully evaluate the condition of all structures on your property. Check the entire area for damaged gas lines or damage to your propane tank. If your propane tank becomes dislodged from its service line, it's likely to be leaking gas out into the surrounding area. A spark from a fallen power line or other ignition source could pose a danger to anyone nearby. Also, debris and water can find their way inside regulators and controls, causing potential safety issues. If it is dark, use flashlights, not candles. Immediately call your local utility company or Ferrellgas if any of these hazards exist. Do not attempt repairs yourself.

6. If you find a propane tank on your property that is not yours, or if your propane tank has become dislodged or is missing, contact your local Ferrellgas office or your local fire department immediately.

7. Never use outdoor propane appliances indoors or in enclosed areas, particularly during a power outage. This can result in carbon monoxide poisoning or death. These include such appliances as portable heaters, barbeque grills, and portable generators. Only use appliances indoors that are designed and approved for indoor use.

8. Inspect your propane appliances for water or other damage, if it is safe to do so. If the appliances have electric components and have been exposed to water, they can create a fire hazard. Do not ever to turn on a light switch, use any power source, or inspect your household appliances while standing in water. This can result in electrocution.

9. Schedule a time for a qualified technician to perform a complete inspection of your propane system if you suspect any of your propane appliances, equipment, or vehicles have been under water or damaged, or you have turned off your gas supply. Never use or operate appliances, equipment, or vehicles, or turn on the gas supply, until your system has been inspected by a qualified technician. Do not attempt repairs yourself.

10. Exercise sound judgement. As with any challenging situation, your composure during tornadoes and other severe weather events will ensure you don't take unnecessary risks or pose any additional dangers to your family and home. Stay calm; use radios, television, and telephones to stay informed and connected. If any questions arise, contact your local Ferrellgas office or fire department.

 Information in this blog provided by the Propane Education & Research Council.

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