Severe Weather Preparedness

We’d like to take some time to remind our residents of several severe weather preparedness tips.   

We encourage all of our residents to create a family emergency plan in the event of severe weather. This plan should be in place well before severe weather threatens and every family member should be familiar with the plan. By planning ahead, this will help limit the risk and anxiety during a severe weather event. For additional information about what should be included within your family emergency plan, please visit one of the websites below:
https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan
http://www.redcross.org/disaster/masters
http://www.ok.gov/oem 
http://www.weather.gov

Here are some additional resources that can help you stay informed: 
Programmable All – Hazards Radios;
Multiple “free” notification systems; 
Internet;
Telephone “call down rosters”;
Local media broadcasts.

Please remember that we do not have any public shelters. The best recommendation from Central Oklahoma Emergency Management Association is to shelter in place during tornado warnings. This means to take shelter where you are, remaining inside your home, workplace or a nearby building. People who live in trailers or manufactured homes should have a pre-event personal disaster plan to seek shelter in a well-constructed nearby building or shelter, getting there well in advance of approaching severe weather. Most homes will provide survival protection for 98% of tornadoes that occur in Oklahoma.

If you would like to make sure that your storm shelter is registered, please contact Danielle Barker at 
(405) 603-3466 or email danielle.barker@bethanyok.org.

Stay Safe and Stay Aware!

Businessman w-Umbrella

The City of Bethany has fielded multiple questions regarding public shelters and why we no longer have them. The decision to close public shelters was not taken lightly and was not an easy choice to make. Ultimately, public shelters were closed due to the amount of evidence showing that public shelters have more risks than benefits for residents. The best option, as recommended by the Central Region of the Oklahoma Emergency Management Association, is to have a personal storm shelter.   

Below is a further explanation as to why many communities across Oklahoma (including Bethany) no longer have public shelters.

  • Travel to a Shelter – One of the biggest challenges with public storm shelters is the requirement that citizens must travel to a distant location during a severe weather event.  Doing this exposes the resident to the very hazard they are trying to avoid. Vehicles are NEVER a safe place to be during significant severe weather events. In fact, a significant number of tornado related fatalities are attributed to being in a vehicle. Additionally, standard residential construction (manufactured housing excluded) typically provides survivable protection for approximately 98% of the tornadoes we experience in Oklahoma. This is, of course, IF those potentially impacted seek shelter early by moving to the lowest possible level in a small interior room or closet away from exterior openings such as doors and windows. The exception to this recommendation are those living in mobile homes and many manufactured home structures. Those living in mobile homes and many manufactured home structures MUST take shelter in a safe room, personal storm shelter or travel to a safer location well in advance of the storms arrival. A residential safe room or personal storm shelter that is well-constructed provides the BEST protection against the impact of tornadoes, including those considered extremely violent. These types of personal shelters will provide the same, if not greater, protection than public storm shelters without the travel risk or other issues.

  • Shelter Capacity – Like most local jurisdictions, there is simply not enough access to readily available sheltering locations that are functionally feasible to accommodate the entire population. Therefore, this often leads to citizens traveling to a public storm shelter site only to find the shelter is full, which puts themselves and their family at greater risk. Public storm shelters are not designed to protect thousands of citizens. The costs would be prohibitive if a jurisdiction were to try to construct and maintain sufficient space to protect even a majority of its population.

  • Shelter Availability – The shelters may not always be open or may not exist. If the public storm shelter exists, they are either un-staffed or staffed only by volunteers, and the volunteers may not always be available. This means that there may not be anyone available to open and manage the shelter. Even those shelters intended to be opened and operated by paid personnel may not always be open if staff members are unavailable.
  • Shelter Construction – As a result of thorough engineering tests, the shelter construction standards have changed and evolved over the last several years. Because of this, many facilities designated as shelters in the past no longer meet the current FEMA shelter construction standards. Additionally, the shelters do not meet the current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance standards. Meaning that the public storm shelters may not be any safer than your home. The concerns of not providing adequate and safe shelters also applies to well-meaning private property owners that offer their structures as shelters.
  • Shelter Rules, Risks and Liabilities – Many jurisdictions have determined that the risks and liabilities that are associated with providing and operating public storm shelters out-weigh the potential benefit; particularly when viewed with other factors, including those listed above.