Oklahoma Emergency Managers Evaluating Public Access To Tornado Shelters

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OKLAHOMA (KFSM) -- Tornado shelters in Norman, Oklahoma are no longer open to the public during severe weather. It's a concept that city's across the state are considering.

Emergency managers said it stems from evidence that the shelters could be doing more harm than good. They said that most people do not realize they may be reaching their safe place too late.

"When the tornado siren goes off, that's typically when a warning advisory has been submitted from the national weather service. You should already be in that safe place," Sebastian County emergency manager Travis Cooper said.

Experts say you should head toward your safe place once a tornado watch has been issued, whether that be in your home or a safe room.

"A lot of the homes now are built, that is your safe place. Go to the lowest level, go to the center of the home away from windows. You are in a safe place," he said.

Weather experts said 2 percent of tornadoes reach EF4 to EF5 intensity and are considered violent. The other 98 percent is what your home is estimated to withstand.

At this time, Oklahoma emergency managers in our area are not planning to cut public access to shelters.

They said the city of Moore is looking into cutting public access to their shelters, which does not include allowing children to use them during school hours.