Staying Safe in a Tornado – Tornado Preparedness Checklist
Texas is known for its fantastic BBQ, pecans, grapefruit, and sweet tea. However, unfortunately for us Texans, it is also known for severe weather that seems to drop out of that big blue Texas sky faster than a Nolan Ryan fastball. Severe thunder and lightning storms with large hail can happen in the spring, summer, and fall, but these storms can also produce tornadoes at nearly any time of year. Staying safe in a specific is all about being prepared and a bit of luck; read our tornado preparedness checklist to keep all the odds in your favor.
Tornadoes are fierce funnels of wind up to 200 mph or more that can rip through steel and concrete. They also create more damage from picking up debris as high as 20,000 feet and raining it down as it moves across the landscape.
Be prepared for a Tornado
First, to stay safe in a tornado, it is essential to understand the risk associated with tornados in the area that you live and work. Although tornadoes can form anywhere at any time, they most often are associated with certain weather patterns and areas.
Second, one must learn to identify a tornado by both sight and sound. While most people know what a tornado looks like, it is more likely that you will hear it before you see it, if you see it at all. Sometimes there will be an eerie calmness just prior to the tornado’s arrival but not always. There may also be a wall cloud and a dark greenish sky. However, tornados do still produce a roaring wind sound that is similar to a freight train. If you hear this, you should immediately check your local weather reports, which brings us to the next point; take weather alerts seriously. When you see a weather alert like a tornado watch or warning, you should take it very seriously and check the weather radars and local reports. Keep up with the storm cell, and make sure that you are ready should the tornado turn in your direction.
Finally, you should know where the best location in your home is to take shelter. Small bathrooms, closets, and hallways might offer the most protection. Make sure you on the first floor of your home, away from windows and doors, in a small space. This will be the most durable portion of the structure and will be less likely to collapse in the middle.
Riding Out the Storm
In the event you find yourself in the path of a tornado; if you should consider these points:
- Grab your cell phone and shoes
- Seek shelter immediately
- Keep checking weather reports until the tornado arrives and/or passes
- Cover yourself with furniture like a mattress or even just a blanket
- Remember to stay away from windows and doors or even glass interior doors and mirrors
- Use your hands and arms to protect your neck and head
If outdoors, look for the closest shelter, and if none can be found, find the lowest area and lay down covering your head and neck with your arms.
When the Storm Has Passed
Even after the storm has passed, the dangers are still very present. Make sure you continue to listen to your weather and emergency reports like NOAA Weather Radio. Also, you must be aware of your surroundings, if damage did occur, debris could still collapse. Try to avoid moving anything if possible and protect your lungs from dust and particles by breathing through a piece of cloth. It is also common for electrical lines to be down, causing additional hazards. Be sure to always keep your distance from downed lines.
Utilize social media and text messages to contact friends and family as phone lines are often jammed after a significant disaster. Likewise, if you are trapped, text to let people know; try banging on pipes or debris that will make a loud sound rather than trying to yell for help. Using these tips will help you to stay safe in a tornado.
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