If you work in a childcare or eldercare facility, you are always moving around. This makes it really hard to stay on top of important weather alerts like tornado watches or warnings. However, since the children’s or resident’s safety is your number one priority, you must find a way to stay informed. I will unpack this more later in the article, but below is a short list.
Ways to Be Alerted of Important Weather Alerts (Like Tornados)
- Use virtual assistant like Alexa to notify you
- Weather app on your phone
- Set up weather alert notifications on your mobile phone
- NOAA Weather Radio (NWR)
- Watching or listening to the news
What Is a Tornado Watch Vs Warning?
Before we talk about how to be notified, it is important to know the difference between a watch and a warning. A tornado watch means simply being on the “watch” by keeping up to date with the weather alerts and preparing to get to a safe place in the building if a tornado warning were to arise. Then a tornado warning means you must take shelter immediately because a tornado has been spotted near your location.
What to Do If There Is a Tornado Warning
If a tornado warning is issued, you must get to the lowest floor possible, away from exterior walls and windows. Many child and elder care facilities are only one level. In this case, just get to the middle of the building ideally in a room with not as much glass. This should be determined in advance so that you can focus on getting people there without first having to determine where you are going.
How to Receive Important Weather Alerts
There are a few ways to set this up, some that have been in place for a while and some that are newer using technology. Finding the best option for you is important, so you will know when to take action.
How to Use Alexa for Weather Alerts
On Alexa, you can just say, “Alexa, tell me when there’s a severe weather alert” then she will start telling you when there are any important weather alerts. Like snowstorm, thunderstorm, or tornado watch/warning. This is a great option because this keeps you from having to check your phone or computer to stay in the know. Many people already have virtual assistants in their facilities, so this is an easy step.
Weather App Notifications on Your Phone or Smart Watch
If you can have your phone with you most of the day, using an app on your phone to notify when there are important weather alerts can be another good way to stay in the know. Even if you don’t have access to your phone, but you have access to a smart watch, then this can also be a good option. Since you could send these to your watch.
There are many weather apps out there and if you have one already it probably supports severe weather alerts.
Here Are a Few Weather Apps to Consider and How to Set Up Notifications:
- Apple Weather App
- This is the best app option we could find, but you have to have an Apple device.
- Here is how to set up severe weather alerts on apple
- The Weather Channel App
- When in the app, click the bell icon at the top > manage > turn on “significant weather”
Set Up Weather Alert Notifications Via Phone Settings
This method uses your phone settings and works like an Amber alert. This will give you basic notifications that pop up as severe weather occurs.
On iPhone, go to Settings > Notifications > Scroll to the bottom to get to Government Alerts > Turn on Emergency and Public Safety Alerts.
On Android, go to Settings > Apps and Notifications > Notifications > Advanced Settings > Wireless Emergency Alerts > turn on “Allow Alerts” > Turn on weather related alerts.
For further instruction, check out this article from The Weather Channel.
NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) Weather Alerts
This is the old school method, but this still works to make sure you get the important information. Getting a weather radio for your facility can be a way to stay in the know. Here is one option if you want to go this route.
Watching or Listening to The News
This method is not likely how you will be alerted originally, but how you can watch the storm once you have already been alerted. It is a good idea to know beforehand what news station(s) to tune into once the storm alert has been issued. This will allow you to stay up to date by listing into expert insight as the storm develops.
Why These Weather Alerts Matter?
Weather can strike very quickly, and you need to know when to act. Working with kids or elderly means you are responsible for keeping them safe, and unfortunately it can be hard to be alerted as you go about your regular day to day work. So by using one of the methods above to keep you informed will allow you to take action as soon as you need to. Of course being informed is just the first step. You must act on a severe weather action plan once you are informed that is one of the many things we talk about in our Fire Safety Class.