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Oklahoma Tornadoes a Reminder to Be Prepared
Date:6/4/2013

TUESDAY, June 4 (HealthDay News) -- The recent tornadoes that devastated parts of Oklahoma, killing scores, should serve as a sad reminder that you need to prepare for a natural disaster or severe weather, experts say.

Regardless of where they live, people often disregard the potential of natural dangers, said one expert. Staying informed and preparing for worst-case scenarios, however, can help residents of any city brace for the unexpected.

"When the probability of an event occurring is small and there is a lesser chance you will be affected if that event occurs, people become complacent," Lisa McCormick, an assistant professor in the department of health care organization and policy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said in a university news release. "False alarms have the same effect."

McCormick said, however, that media coverage of natural disasters like the recent tornadoes can help increase people's sensitivity to such events.

"Research has shown that people become more aware of the need to be prepared after events occur, even if the event didn't occur in their own community," McCormick said. "If the event is catastrophic, there is more media coverage for a longer period of time, reinforcing the need to be prepared."

Although no preparedness plan will guarantee safety from a tornado or other extreme event, McCormick advised people to take the following steps to be ready for the unexpected:

  • Make a plan. Know what to do if a tornado warning is issued long before it actually happens. If you are in a house, the basement or an interior bathroom on the lowest floor with no windows is the safest place to go. For those in a high-rise apartment building, the lowest floor of the building is best. People who live in trailers should identify the nearest tornado shelter, church with a basement or other building they can use for shelter.
  • Put together a disaster-prepar
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