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In 2013, there were 800 tornadoes and $3 billion in damage nationwide

OKLAHOMA – As our state continues to recover from last year's devastating storms, many Oklahomans want to protect themselves in the future. Total real estate damage due to tornadoes in the United States in 2013 is estimated at $3 billion, according to the Storm Prediction Center. In 2013, there were 800 tornadoes in the nation, 62 of which were reported in Oklahoma.

"Severe weather is a serious threat in this state, and we want to help Oklahomans to be prepared," said John Wiscaver, vice president of public affairs for Oklahoma Farm Bureau Insurance and co-chair of the Oklahoma Insurance Department's Catastrophe Response Task Force. "Not only should they have a plan in place to protect their families, but they should also plan ahead to protect their property with adequate insurance coverage."

Oklahoma Farm Bureau Insurance offers the following tips for Oklahomans to prepare for this year's storm season:

Make a severe weather plan. Every family should have a tornado or severe weather safety plan in place. If you do not have a storm shelter, designate an area in your home that is as far as possible from outside windows or walls. The smallest, lowest and most central location is best; oftentimes the cellar, basement or central bathroom.

Ensure insurance policies are updated. It's important to ensure your property is covered for potential severe weather damages before the storm hits. Policyholders should have an ongoing discussion with their insurance agent and review their policy annually to ensure adequate coverage. Also, remember to add coverage for new personal property on homeowner's insurance or business-related items on business coverage. Keep an updated inventory of possessions in case you need to file a claim. Visit www.knowyourstuff.org for more information.

Have a tornado kit. Oklahomans should prepare a tornado kit that includes essentials such as a weather radio, flashlight, batteries, water bottles, a first-aid kit, important documents, cash and identification, as well as spare care keys for vehicles. Any important documents, such as birth certificates, deeds and other items should also be included in the kit. It should be stored in an easily accessible area of the home or within the storm shelter or designated safe room.

Stay weather-aware. News stations offer weather apps that can be downloaded onto your smartphone, or a weather radio can provide up-to-date information in the event of a loss of power. Do not wait to take action if your area is at risk, and never attempt to outrun a storm. Grab your tornado kit and take shelter immediately.

Published in Opinion