In case you were wondering, we’re in Tornado Season again. This means that at almost any minute, we will turn on our TV and hear, “Ding ding, ding ding, ding ding, beeeeeeeeeeep.”

As you know, tornadoes have the potential to be deadly, which is generally a bad thing. So in the spirit of needing a good column topic, I have decided to write a tornado preparedness guide, which will hopefully help you and your loved ones (in my case, a couple of box turtles) survive one of nature’s most terrifying events-besides earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, monsoons, tsunamis and Arnold Schwarzenegger running for governor.

It would probably also be smart to suggest that you not read this until after tornado season is over.

Actually, this tornado survival guide will most likely not be useful for any Midwest natives, as our plan of action during a tornado warning is to go outside and see if it is as big as the last one.

But any of you out-of-regioners should find this at least worthy of throwing away, so let’s begin.

We will start off the Official Hillsboro Free Press Tornado Preparedness Guide with how to interpret the TV weather signals.

A “tornado watch” means you need to start recharging your video camera batteries. A “tornado warning” means your batteries had better be fully charged and already in the camera.

We will now move on to nature’s warning signs.

Generally, the sky will be a greenish or brownish color. It will also get suddenly still outside, which means that there will be very little wind-yes, that is possible here in Kansas.

Another definite sign of an impending tornado is a cackling ugly woman riding around town on her bicycle with a dog in her basket.

The levels of intensity of a tornado are broken up into seven levels; F0, F1, F2, F3, F4, F5 and F6. This system is called the Fajita Scale. Oops, we’re sorry. We meant the Fujita Scale.

A F0 tornado is known as a “Gale Tornado.” It is capable of knocking over chimneys and uprooting small trees. In other words, this is basically average Kansas wind.

F1 tornadoes are “Moderate Tornadoes.” These can push moving automobiles off the road.

A “Significant Tornado”-or F2-can tear a roof off of a house and knock boxcars over.

This basic system continues until F6, which is known as an “Inconceivable Tornado,” which means it can’t produce offspring. These tornadoes are very unlikely, and anything that it picks up has potential to come back down very hard. This could hurt.

So now with that information, you are probably asking, “Why is he writing for the newspaper?” But what you SHOULD be asking is, “So how do I prepare for a tornado?”

That is a very good question.

The best suggestion for safety during a tornado is to move to Maine. The most dangerous thing there are lobsters.

(Which reminds us of an article we read a long time ago where shellfish got picked up by some very strong winds, and ended up raining down on people. Needless to say, these folks were very crabby. Ha ha!)

But we suppose that you’re not going to move to Maine (because the only thing there is lobster). Since you insist on staying, here are a few things you should keep handy:

— Flashlights and a battery-operated radio.

— Extra batteries. (We can assure you the moment you need them, the batteries already in your flashlight and radio will go dead. But chances are, these will be the wrong size, anyway.)

— First aid kit. (Or a second aid kit if you didn’t get the original set.)

— Lemon-aid kit.

— Other food and water.

— Sturdy shoes. (Just in case you suddenly get the urge to go for a walk.)

— Cash and credit cards. (A shopping mall might land on top of your house.)

— Clean underwear. (That should be self-explanatory.)

So now that you are prepared for a tornado, where do you go? We already suggested Maine, but since you refuse to go, we’ll tell you this:

Go to the basement.

Of course, a basement is not always available at the moment. In that case, we suggest you find an interior room with no windows at the lowest level of the building.

We would like to close by saying that tornadoes are a very risky business. Always choose your safety over your curiosity. Although storm chasing may look fun, it is a definite way to get yourself into a documentary on the Weather Channel about stupid people.

But if you must go storm chasing, don’t go alone. Bring along an authorized video camera, with fully charged batteries.

* * *

UFO: In Pampa, Texas, a tornado moved a 30,000-pound piece of machinery!

Don’t ask why!

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