How To Prepare for a Tornado

By Josh Crank, April 26, 2018, Hurricane Prep

If you’re lucky, the only tornado you’ll ever see is the one that carried Dorothy and Toto to Oz. Tornadoes are extremely dangerous storms capable of flattening buildings, flinging vehicles and sending debris flying at speeds over 200 mph. You may only have seconds to get to safety when a tornado is headed your way, so it’s essential that you know how to prepare for a tornado at home, work, school or anywhere.

The tricky part about tornado preparedness is that you can’t predict where you’ll be when a tornado strikes, so you’ll need to know where to seek shelter in a variety of circumstances.

How To Prepare for a Tornado | Bounce Energy Blog

Set up Tornado Alerts

You can’t take shelter if you don’t know a tornado is coming. The most convenient way to stay informed of tornado activity is with a smartphone. Make sure your phone is set to receive emergency alerts, and consider registering for secondary alerts from your favorite weather app or organizations like the American Red Cross.

You can also get weather alerts from a NOAA weather radio, local commercial radio and local television, though it’s common for cable and electrical service to be disrupted during severe weather. Some areas, but not all, have sirens that sound when a tornado has been spotted nearby.

Meteorologists can often spot the potential for tornadoes hours or days in advance, so it helps to check the weather forecast daily. You should check your local weather report if you see dark or greenish skies, low-lying storm clouds, high winds or hail, as these can be signs of tornado-producing weather.

How To Prepare for a Tornado | Bounce Energy Blog

Create a Tornado Prep Plan

Even if you know how to get alerts and where to seek shelter, there are still a couple of items left on your tornado preparedness checklist.

First, create an emergency communication plan for your family so that everyone knows what to do and how to get reconnected if an emergency occurs while family members are in different locations. FEMA’s website provides instructions and forms that families can use to build a detailed plan.

Next, put together an emergency kit for your home, if you don’t already have one. You can store it in your home’s best shelter so that it’s accessible whenever you’re sheltering from a possible tornado. Your kit should ideally include:

  • Several gallons of bottled water
  • A few days worth of non-perishable food
  • NOAA weather radio
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help if you become trapped

Take Shelter During a Tornado

If you’re at home, the safest place is in the basement or a designated storm shelter. If neither is available, find a small, interior room on the ground floor, like a closet or bathroom. If possible, get under a sturdy table or in a bathtub and cover your head and neck with your hands.

If you’re in a high-rise building, find a small interior room on the lowest accessible floor. Many high-rise buildings have emergency shelter plans, so be ready to follow instructions from safety monitors.

If you’re in a mobile home or other manufactured structure, you should leave the building immediately and seek the closest available sturdy building, where you should find the lowest interior room. Do not try to ride out a tornado in a manufactured home.

If you’re outdoors and far from the nearest shelter, find a ditch or other low-lying area that can protect you from flying debris. Lie flat on your stomach with your hands covering your head and neck.

If you’re in a vehicle, drive to the nearest sturdy shelter if one is immediately accessible. If there is no nearby shelter, leave the vehicle for a low-lying area. It is dangerous to take cover under an overpass or bridge.

Remember, property can be replaced, but your life cannot. Be prepared, remain alert and seek shelter immediately when severe weather threatens.

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