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Weathering the Storm A special guide to surviving Oklahoma’s extreme weather


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Spring 2013

Enid News & Eagle


Enid News & Eagle

WEATHERING THE STORM 2013

Spring 2013

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A guide to surviving the extremes

Photos • • • • • • • • • • •

The Ada News The (Chickasha) Express-Star The Claremore Daily Progress The Edmond Sun The Enid News & Eagle The McAlester News-Capital The Muskogee Phoenix The Norman Transcript The Stillwater NewsPress The Tahlequah Daily Press The Woodward News

Section Design Joe Malan, Enid News & Eagle

Advertising

tornado in woodward Damage (above and left) covers the ground near 34th Street in Woodward from an April 15, 2012, tornado that killed 6 people and destroyed more than 100 homes and businesses. (Photos by Rowynn Ricks/The Woodward News)

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

The Ada News The (Chickasha) Express-Star The Claremore Daily Progress The Duncan Banner The Edmond Sun The Enid News & Eagle The McAlester News-Capital The Muskogee Phoenix The Norman Transcript The Pauls Valley Democrat The (Pryor) Times The Stillwater NewsPress The Stilwell Democrat Journal The Tahlequah Daily Press The Woodward News

On the Cover A tattered American flag flies over two vehicles where two young girls ages 6 and 8, were found after a severe thunderstorm spawned a massive tornado shortly after midnight April 15, 2012 in Woodward. The girls, Faith and Kelley Hobbie, and their father, Frank Hobbie, were three of the six fatalities in the northwest Oklahoma destruction. (Photo by Bonnie Vculek/Enid News & Eagle)


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Spring 2013

Enid News & Eagle

WEATHERING THE STORM 2013

A guide to surviving the extremes

Everything from tornadoes to drought impact Oklahoma On April 15, 2012, the city of Woodward was struck by a deadly tornado. The twister hit the western part of town, damaging more than 100 structures, but also leaving six people dead in its wake. The tornado was just one example of extreme weather to impact portions of Oklahoma in 2012. An ongoing issue throughout the year was a drought that affected all of the state in some capacity. Last year marked the warmest on record for Oklahoma. The state’s average daily temperature for the entire year was 63 degrees, surpassing the previous record of 62.8 degrees set in 1954. The mark was 3.4 degrees above normal.

The resulting warmth, coupled with a lack of precipitation, left some areas of the state needing upwards of 10 inches of precipitation to bring an end to the drought. That hasn’t happened, and most, if not all, areas in Oklahoma continue to struggle. In 2012, Oklahomans also dealt with wildfires, some the result of the ongoing drought. Weathering the Storm 2013 will give readers a recap of some of the most extreme weather that occurs in Oklahoma, as well as how to deal with it. In this section, you’ll find tips on everything from staying safe from tornadoes to conserving water in drought to driving safely in the winter.

A Cedar Creek fire crew battles a fire Aug. 3, 2012, in south Cleveland County. (Kyle Phillips/The Norman Transcript)

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Enid News & Eagle

WEATHERING THE STORM 2013

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A guide to surviving the extremes

Know the signs of a tornado Be alert when weather conditions change, especially if these conditions develop: 1 2 3 4

A dark, greenish sky Large hail A large, dark, low-lying, rotating cloud A loud roar, similar to a freight train Info from ready.gov/tornadoes

Next: What to do during a tornado

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A tornado rolls through Oklahoma in 2010. (Photo by Billy Hefton/Enid News & Eagle)


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Spring 2013

Enid News & Eagle

WEATHERING THE STORM 2013

A guide to surviving the extremes

Protect yourself during the tornado Where you seek shelter depends on where you are at when the tornado is approaching. 1

(Photo by Rowynn Ricks/The Woodward News)

If you’re inside a building: Go to a pre-designated shelter area, such as a safe room, basement or storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to a interior room — away from corners, windows, and doors — in the lowest level of the structure. If you can, get under a table and protect your arms and neck. See DURING THE TORNADO, Page 7


Enid News & Eagle

WEATHERING THE STORM 2013

Spring 2013

A guide to surviving the extremes

DURING THE TORNADO Continued from Page 6

If you’re in a high-rise, head to the lowest floor possible and go to an interior room. In any case, do not open any windows.

2

If you’re in a trailer or mobile home: Leave immediately and get the first floor of a sturdy building, or get inside a storm shelter.

3

If you’re caught outside: If you’re near your vehicle, get into it as quickly as possible. Buckle your seat belt. Cover your head and duck below the level of the windows. Use a blanket or cushion, if you have one, to further protect yourself.

One thing that’s important to remember if you’re stuck on the highway during a tornado situation is to never get under an overpass or bridge. You are actually safer in a low-lying area. Also, never try to outrun a tornado. If you’re nowhere near your car, find a low area, perhaps a ditch — any ground that’s lower than the roadway. Cover your head with your hands and use a helmet, coat or blanket to protect yourself, if you have one.

Next: After the tornado hits

Information from ready.gov/tornadoes

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WEATHERING THE STORM 2013

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A guide to surviving the extremes

after the storm

A tornado left a 15-mile path of debris (top left and above) from Cherokee to Adair counties in April 2012. (Photo by Josh Newton /Tahlequah Daily Press) An OU travel flag hangs from a remaining post of a shed east of Medford May 1, 2012, after a tornado moved across Grant County the day before. (Photo by Billy Hefton/Enid News & Eagle)


Enid News & Eagle

WEATHERING THE STORM 2013

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A guide to surviving the extremes

What do to when cleaning up after a tornado Just because the tornado has passed doesn’t mean you are now safe. 1 2

After the storm, continue to monitor your NOAA Weather Radio for the latest information. If you intend on going out, make sure to wear heavy-duty boots or certain shoes so that glass, nails or other debris cannot pierce your skin.

3

Do not touch downed power lines or other electrical hazards. Report them to the power company.

4

Use battery-powered lanterns to light your home, rather than candles. Also, do not use a generator inside your home, basement or garage to provide power. See CLEANING UP, Page 10


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WEATHERING THE STORM 2013

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A guide to surviving the extremes

CLEANING UP Continued from Page 9

5

Upon inspecting the damage, if you notice structural, electric or gas-leak hazards, contact your local county or city building inspectors, who can offer you recommendations on repair.

6

If you suspect damage from your home, you should shut off electrical power and natural gas and propane tanks to avoid fire, electrocution or explosions.

7

If you smell gas or suspect a leak, shut off the main gas valve, open the windows and leave the house immediately. Notify local authorities of the issue, and do not do anything that could cause a spark.

Information from ready.gov/tornadoes

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Enid News & Eagle

Gary England

David Payne

Spring 2013

Jim Gardner

No One Covers Oklahoma Weather Like Oklahoma’s Own.

Will Kavanagh

Alan Crone

Travis Meyer

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Enid News & Eagle

WEATHERING THE STORM 2013

A guide to surviving the extremes

Tornadoes: What’s true and what’s not fiction Lakes, rivers and

fiction A tornado causes build-

fiction Open windows before a

fact

fact

fact

mountains protect areas from tornadoes. No geographic location is safe from tornadoes. A tornado near Yellowstone National Park left a path of destruction up and down a 10,000-foot mountain.

ings to “explode” as it passes overhead.

Violent winds and debris slamming into buildings cause the most structural damage.

Information from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

tornado approaches to equalize pressure and minimize damage. Virtually all buildings leak. Leave windows closed. Take shelter immediately. An underground shelter, basement or safe room are the safest places. Otherwise, go to a windowless interior room.


Enid News & Eagle

Spring 2013

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WEATHERING THE STORM 2013

A resident searches the Hideaway Mobile Home Villa grounds for belongings after a severe thunderstorm spawned a massive tornado April 15, 2012, in Woodward. (Photo by Bonnie Vculek/Enid News & Eagle)

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Spring 2013

Enid News & Eagle

WEATHERING THE STORM 2013

A guide to surviving the extremes

Most, but not all, tornadoes are weak strong tornadoes

weak tornadoes

violent tornadoes

88 percent of all tornadoes

11 percent of all tornadoes

Less than 1 percent of all tornadoes

Less than 5 percent of all tornado-related deaths

Nearly 30 percent of all tornadorelated deaths

70 percent of all tornado-related deaths

Lifetime: 1-10 minutes

Lifetime: 20 minutes or longer

Lifetime: Can exceed 1 hour

Winds less than 110 mph

Winds 111-165 mph

Winds greater than 165 mph

Produces EF0 or EF1 damage

Produces EF2 or EF3 damage

Produces EF4 or EF5 damage

Information on Pages 14 and 15 from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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Enid News & Eagle

WEATHERING THE STORM 2013

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A guide to surviving the extremes

enhanced fujita scale

A tornado in Chickasha. (Photo provided)

EF Rating

3-second wind gust (mph)

0

65-85

1

86-110

2

111-135

3

136-165

4

166-200

5

More than 200


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WEATHERING THE STORM 2013

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A guide to surviving the extremes

Source: U.S. Drought Monitor

January 3, 2012

January 1, 2013

2012 drought snapshot


Enid News & Eagle

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WEATHERING THE STORM 2013

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A guide to surviving the extremes

How to prepare for drought Pages 19-23 can help you cope with periods of little to no moisture. A cow grazes on the edge of a pond affected by the ongoing drought in 2012 along North 42nd Street in Enid. (Photo by Billy Hefton/Enid News & Eagle)


Enid News & Eagle

WEATHERING THE STORM 2013

Spring 2013

A guide to surviving the extremes

Indoor water conservation tips General • Don’t pour water down the drain when there might be a use for it. • Repair dripping faucets by replacing washers. • Check all plumbing for leaks. If there are, have them repaired. • Retrofit all household faucets with aerators that have flow restrictors. • Install an instant hot water heater on your sink. • Insulate your water pipes to reduce heat loss and prevent them from breaking. • Choose appliances that are more energy- and water-efficient.

Bathroom • Consider purchasing a low-volume toilet that uses half the water as other models. • Install a toilet displacement device to cut down on the amount of water needed to flush. Place a one-gallon plastic jug of water into the tank to displace toilet flow. Make sure installation doesn’t interfere with operating parts. • Replace your showerhead with an ultralow-flow version.

Kitchen • Start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing of food waste, or simply dispose of food in the garbage.

Info on Pages 19-21 from ready.gov/ drought. Images courtesy Metro Creative Connection.

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Enid News & Eagle

WEATHERING THE STORM 2013

A guide to surviving the extremes

Outdoor water conservation tips General • Periodically check your well pump. If the automatic pump turns on and off while water is not being used, you have a leak. • Plant native and/or drought-tolerant grasses, ground cover, shrubs and trees. Plants adapted to local climates may not need as much water. Also, group plans together according to how much water they require. • Install irrigation devices that are the most water-efficient for each use, such as micro and drip irrigation and soaker hoses. • Use mulch to retain moisture in the

soil. Mulch also helps control weeds that compete with landscape plants for water. • Avoid purchasing recreational water toys that require a constant stream of water. • Avoid installing ornamental water features (such as fountains) unless they use recirculated water. • Consider rainwater harvesting when practical. • Contact your local water provider for more information and assistance.

See OUTDOOR CONSERVATION, Page 21


Enid News & Eagle

WEATHERING THE STORM 2013

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OUTDOOR CONSERVATION Continued from Page 20

Lawn care

Pool

• Position sprinklers so water lands on the lawn and shrubs, not paved areas. • Repair sprinklers that spray a fine mist. Most misting issues result from a pressure problem. • Check sprinkler systems and timing devices regularly. • Raise the lawn mower blade to at least 3 inches, or to its highest level. A higher cut encourages grass roots to grow deeper, shades the root system and holds soil moisture. • Plant drought-resistant lawn seed. Reduce or eliminate lawn areas that are not frequently used.

• Avoid over-fertilizing. Applying fertilizer increases the need for water. Apply fertilizers with slow-release, water-insoluble forms of nitrogen. • Choose drip irrigation or another water-efficient form of irrigation for trees, shrubs and flowers. • Turn irrigation down in the fall and off in winter. Water manually in winter only if necessary. • Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants to reduce evaporation and keep the soil cool. • Invest in a weather-based irrigation controller — or smart controller.

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WEATHERING THE STORM 2013

A guide to surviving the extremes

During a drought: Indoor water conservation Bathroom • Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. • Avoid taking baths. Instead, take short showers. • Avoid letting the water run while you brush your teeth, wash your face or shave. • Place a bucket in the shower to catch excess water. It can be used for watering plants.

Laundry • Operate washing machines only when they are fully loaded.

Kitchen • Operate dishwashers only when they are fully loaded. • Hand wash dishes by filling two containers, one with soapy water and the other with rinse water containing a small amount of chlorine bleach. • Clean vegetables in a pan filled with water, rather than under the tap. • Store drinking water in the refrigerator. Don’t run the water while waiting for it to cool. • Avoid wasting water while waiting for it to get hot. Use it for other uses, such as plant watering, or heat water on the stove or in a microwave.

• Avoid rinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Just remove large particles of food beforehand. (Dishwashers can clean soiled dishes well, so dishes usually don’t need to be rinsed beforehand.) • Avoid running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost food overnight in the refrigerator, or use the defrost setting on your microwave oven.

Information from ready.gov/drought

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Enid News & Eagle

WEATHERING THE STORM 2013

During a drought: How to conserve outdoor water Lawn care • Avoid over-watering your lawn. Water only when needed. • A heavy rain eliminates the need to water for up to two weeks. • Check soil moisture levels with a soil probe, spade or large screwdriver. You don’t need to water if the soil still is moist. If the grass springs back when you step on it, it doesn’t need water. • If you need to water, do so in the morning or the evening, when the weather is cooler. • Frequently check your sprinkler system and make sure to adjust them so your lawn is

being watered — not the sidewalks or street. • Water in several short sessions, rather than one long one. The lawn will better be able to absorb water, and runoff will be avoided. • Use a broom or blower instead of a hose to clean up leaves or debris on the driveway or sidewalk. • Avoid leaving sprinklers or hoses unattended. A garden hose can pour out 600 gallons or more in only a few hours. • In extreme drought, allow lawns to die and instead preserve trees and large shrubs.

Car washing • Use a commercial car wash use a shut-off nozzle that that recycles water. can be adjusted down to a • If washing your own car, fine spray on your hose.

Information from ready.gov/drought

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How to survive wildfires Read Pages 25 and 26 to find out how you can prevent fires and be safe. Fires south of Glencoe threaten acres of property in 2012, including this site, where a few vehicles and a large metal building were threatened. (Photo by Chase Rheam/The Stillwater NewsPress)


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Don’t make a spark Oklahoma Forestry Services offers these tips for being safe while cooking outdoors. 1

Place grills over non-flammable surfaces, such as bare dirt, at least five feet away from dead grass and weeds.

2

Never transport a barbecue pit or grill with live coals.

3

Have a source of water nearby in case a fire ignites during grilling.

Logan Renner, 17, stands in what used to be his bedroom, looking for anything that might be salvageable after a fire destroyed his home in August 2012 in Luther. (Photo by Mark Schlachtenhaufen/The Edmond Sun)

Thursday, April 19th 4:30pm CONVENTION HALL 301 S. INDEPENDENCE - ENID, OK This competition is a fundraiser for the March of Dimes and open to young ladies of northwestern Oklahoma. Teeny Miss Red Dirt: 0-2yrs, Tiny Miss Red Dirt: 3-5yrs Little Miss Red Dirt: 6-9yrs, Jr. Miss Red Dirt: 10-12yrs Entry Fee: $10 Entry Form, Rules & Regulations available online at www.reddirtbbq.com or contact Stephanie Soucek (580)278-2921 email:SSoucek@marchofdimes.com


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WEATHERING THE STORM 2013

A guide to surviving the extremes

Take steps to protect your property from fires ✔

Rake leaves, dead limbs and twigs. Clear all flammable vegetation.

Ask the power company to clear branches from power lines.

Dispose of newspapers and rubbish at an approved site.

Remove leaves and rubbish from under structures.

Remove vines from the walls of your home.

Thin a 15-foot space between tree crowns, and remove limbs within 15 feet of the ground.

Regularly mow grass.

Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket. Soak with water for two days, then bury cold ashes in mineral soil.

Clear a 10-foot area around propane tanks and barbecues.

Remove dead branches that extend over your house’s roof.

Prune tree branches or shrubs within 15 feet of a stovepipe or chimney outlet.

Info from: usfa.fema.gov/citizens /home_fire_prev/wildfire/


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WEATHERING THE STORM 2013 storm clouds Gloomy storm clouds pass just north of Ada Feb. 3, 2012. (Photo by Richard R. Barron/The Ada News)

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A guide to surviving the extremes


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WEATHERING THE STORM 2013

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Be aware of high water when driving 1

Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control and stalling.

2

A foot of water will float most vehicles, and two feet of water can carry away most.

3

Never attempt to drive through a flooded road. You may not know the water’s depth until it’s too late.

4

Never drive around a barricade. Stick to designed evacuation routes, and be extra careful at night.

Information from ready.gov/floods

Traffic on York Street in Muskogee slows to a standstill as Muskogee Fire Department rescues Logan Rhodes, who was stranded March 20, 2012, in high water in a 2006 Ford Explorer. (Photo by Dylan Goforth/The Muskogee Phoenix)


Enid News & Eagle

WEATHERING THE STORM 2013

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A guide to surviving the extremes

Alvin Pate (left) examines the damage to his Chrysler 300 following a windstorm in 2012. (Photo by Randy Cowling/The Claremore Daily Progress) At the end of September 2012, a strong storm hit most of Grady County, destroying a dugout (above) at Minco High School. (Photo by The Chickasha Express-Star)

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WEATHERING THE STORM 2013

A guide to surviving the extremes

Be smart in the Oklahoma heat ✔

Slow down. Wait to do strenuous activities until it’s cooler out.

Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.

Drink plenty of water. Don’t drink alcoholic beverages; limit caffeine intake.

Spend as much time in air conditioning as possible.

Don’t take salt tablets unless directed to by a physician.

When it’s hot out, never leave your child unattended in a vehicle, even with the windows down.

Make sure your child’s safety seat and seat belt buckles aren’t hot before putting them in the car.

Make sure all car doors are locked so children cannot get in.

Tips from nws.noaa.gov/os/heat/index.shtml Xaiver Franco, 5, tries to keep cool Aug. 13, 2012, at Andrews Park splash pad in Norman. (Photo by Kyle Phillips/The Norman Transcript)


Enid News & Eagle

WEATHERING THE STORM 2013

Spring 2013

A guide to surviving the extremes A United States postal carrier assists a stranded motorist in blizzard conditions during a winter storm Feb. 1, 2011, in Enid. (Photo by Bonnie Vculek/Enid News & Eagle)

Don’t get stranded in the snow ✔

Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Don’t be in a hurry.

The normal following distance should be 8-10 seconds.

When braking, apply firm, steady pressure with the ball of your foot.

Try not to stop. Slow down enough to where you’re still rolling slowly before accelerating again.

Don’t power up hills, but don’t stop while going up one, either. Build momentum ahead of time.

Information from AAA Exchange

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WEATHERING THE STORM 2013

A guide to surviving the extremes

Stay warm, safe in winter

Ava and her brother Caden Bond take a ride on their Radio Flyer sled down the hill in front of their home after a 2012 snowfall. (Photo by Julie Bragg/ For The Norman Transcript)

• Install a smoke alarm near bedrooms and on each floor of your home. Test it monthly. If it has a 9volt battery, change the battery once a year. • Install a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm near bedrooms and on each floor of your home. If your alarm sounds, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests you press the reset button, call emergency services (911 or your local fire department), and immediately move to fresh air (either outdoors or near an open door or window). Know the symptoms of CO poisoning: headache, fatigue, dizziness, and

shortness of breath. If you experience any of these symptoms, get fresh air right away and contact a doctor for proper diagnosis. • Make sure heating equipment is installed properly. Have a trained specialist inspect and tune up your heating system each year. • Keep portable space heaters at least 3 feet from anything that can burn, including bedding, furniture, and clothing. Never drape clothing over a space heater to dry. • Keep children and pets away from space heaters. Never leave children in a room alone when a space heater is in use.

• If you use a kerosene heater, use only the fuel recommended by the manufacturer. Never put gasoline in a kerosene heater — it could explode. Before you refuel the heater, turn it off and let it cool down. Refuel outside only. • When using a kerosene heater, keep a door open to the rest of the house or open a window slightly. This will reduce the chance of carbon monoxide build-up in the room. • Have your fireplace chimney and flue inspected each year and cleaned if needed. Open the flue

See WINTER SAFETY, Page 35


Enid News & Eagle

WEATHERING THE STORM 2013 WINTER SAFETY Continued from Page 34 and use a sturdy fireplace screen when you have a fire. Burn only untreated wood; never burn paper or pine branches — pieces can float out the chimney and ignite your roof, a neighbor’s roof, or nearby trees. • If you use a wood-burning stove, have the chimney connection and flue checked each year. Make sure the stove is placed on an approved stove board to protect the floor from heat and coals. • Never use your range or oven to heat your home, even for a short time.

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A guide to surviving the extremes

Info from kidsource.com/safety/ winter.safety.cold.html

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Weathering the Storm 2013  

CNHI's guide to surviving extreme weather in Oklahoma.

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