Turnpike Storm Shelters Offer Safe Escape

By: Alicia Myers Email
By: Alicia Myers Email

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Every day, thousands of drivers make their way from one part of Kansas to another, via the turnpike. When severe weather strikes and a tornado warning is in effect, how can drivers on the turnpike ensure they are safe?

Twenty-eight shelters align the turnpike, from milepost 16 to milepost 217. Shelters at toll booths are underground, either a tunnel or a cement room that is accessed by opening a hatch and climbing down a short ladder.

"If you happen to be near a service area, there's a tornado shelter at every service area," said Lisa Callahan, Kansas Turnpike Authority, Director of Public Relations.

Those shelters are either in restrooms or in a storm room.

If you can't make it to one of the shelters alongside the turnpike, the Kansas Turnpike Authority recommends you find a ditch and lie in the lowest spot. Most importantly, they say never take cover under an overpass.

"That is really one of the most unsafe places, either to stop with your car or to get out and go underneath. It creates a vacuum and is very unsafe," said Callahan.

Plus, the overpass will not ensure your safety like the turnpike storm shelters will.

"Anytime a customer thinks there's a tornado or it's not safe, they open the door and go in. They're never locked. They're open," said Callahan.

Each underground shelter is built to fit about twenty people inside. For a list of all the turnpike storm shelter locations, click here.

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