Springtime brings its own risks, and tornadoes are often among them. The number of tornadoes increases in “Tornado Alley” as spring rolls around, but as we saw in Salt Lake City here in Utah back in 1999, tornadoes can strike almost anywhere at any time. That’s why we’re covering tornado preparation today, so that you can get yourself and your family to safety as quickly as possible.
First of all, it’s always a good idea to start with a tornado emergency kit for you and your family.
Knowing when a Tornado is about to Strike
You’re not always going to have the luxury of time to prepare for a tornado strike. Some can come without warning and some can come when there’s no sign of a thunderstorm. During these times, the following weather signs are important to remember, as they may mean that a tornado is approaching:
- A dark or green-colored sky
- A large, dark, low-lying cloud
- Large hail
- A loud roar that sounds like a freight train
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people in the path of a tornado find a shelter or a tornado-safe room. If there’s not one readily available, it’s up to you to find safety nearby.
In Your Home or Another Building
The first part of your challenge is to find the safest place in your home. The interior of a basement is often the safest, or alternatively you can go to the lowest floor and find a nearby closet. Avoid windows and avoid taking shelter where there are heavy objects on the floor above you, such as pianos or refrigerators,. They could fall though the floor if the tornado strikes your house. Have your family practice getting to safe spots or under something sturdy such as a heavy table or workbench as quickly as possible. Crouching down is always a good idea. Anything to make yourself as small a target as possible.
If you Live in a Mobile Home
The rule of thumb is this: Do not stay in a mobile home during a tornado! Mobile homes can turn over during strong winds. Even mobile homes with a tie-down system cannot withstand the force of tornado winds. If you live in a mobile home, plan on heading to a nearby building, preferably one with a basement. If there’s no other building nearby, follow the procedures below for finding safety outdoors. It wouldn’t hurt to encourage your community to build tornado shelters nearby.
Being outdoors as a tornado is bearing down on you is a difficult situation.. If you’re caught outdoors and you’re not able to safely run into a building, lie down in a gully, ravine, or ditch nearby. It’s important to avoid areas with many trees. Do everything you can to protect your head (more on this later). If you’re driving, immediately stop your vehicle and look around to see if there’s a gully or ditch nearby. Do not get under your car or try to outrun a tornado.
Other things you can do
One of the most common causes of death during a tornado is head injuries, so it goes without saying that protecting your noggin. There’s no research currently available on the effectiveness of helmet use to prevent head injuries during a tornado, but if it protects your head, it can only be a good thing. It’s important to make sure, however, that you know exactly where the helmet is so you can grab it quickly in times of emergency.
You can protect yourself from falling objects by covering up with blankets and pillows.
Practice different scenarios with your family. The more you practice, the less likely things will go wrong when you need to find safety in a real emergency. How have these preparation tips helped you? Let us know in the comments or on social networks!