As I am preparing to head out on our annual storm chasing trip, I am reminded about how many people do not know the proper safety measures if you are faced with a tornado in your area.
First, know if there is a chance of a tornado in your area. A tornado watch means that there is a chance of tornados in your area and conditions are favorable for a tornado to form quickly. A tornado warning means that an actual tornado has been spotted in your area. There are apps to download onto your phone to alert you to tornado warnings. Keep the news channel or weather channel on so you are aware of the danger and updated on the most recent changes.
Make a family plan. Everyone in your family should know where they are to meet in the event of a tornado. The safest place is a storm shelter. If you do not have a storm shelter, meet in the basement away from windows. If you do not have a basement, seek shelter along an interior wall away from windows. Closets, bathrooms and corners of interior rooms are the most sturdy to protect you. Do not open windows; doing that will allow flying debris into your home and increase your risk of injury.
If you live in a mobile home, it is not safe to remain there. Go to a local storm shelter, public building or neighbor’s home with a basement. If you are outside and no shelter is immediately available, lie down in the lowest area (ditch, ravine, depression) and cover your head. Do not lie near a tree as it will not protect you in a tornado. Furthermore do not seek shelter under an underpass. Underpasses have stronger wind currents and collect flying debris putting you in increased risk of being harmed. Do not try not to outrun a tornado in your vehicle.
Be prepared. If there is a tornado watch in your area, have everyone put on sturdy shoes and a jacket nearby so that if you need to evacuate, everyone is safely ready. Having a helmet for everyone to protect their heads is ideal, but if no helmets are available, have a blanket in your meeting area to cover everyone to protect from flying debris. Have bottled water and non-perishable food available. Ideally have an emergency, battery operated radio. Most cell phones will not work in disasters due to towers being down and numerous people trying to make calls at the same time.
The key to safety during severe weather is to be aware, prepared and calm.
Click to set custom HTML