Tornado Safety: Top Tornado Preparedness and Safety Tips

No matter where you live, tornado safety is something about which everyone should understand. Tornadoes are violent and dangerous storms, and while they are most common during warm, stormy seasons – they are likely to occur during every month of the year and in every state.

Its also not commonly known that the most powerful and dangerous tornadoes occur in the U.S. These damaging phenomena are known to leave a wake of destruction – leveling homes and turning thousand-pound automobiles into airborne missiles. If one is to occur nearby to your home – you are likely not going to outrun it but fortunately, being well versed in how to keep your family safe can mean the difference between life and death for you and your loved ones.

Tornado Safety: The Basics

Tornadoes are deadly, destructive forces of nature that can occur with little to no warning at all. It is likely that in the event a tornado were to touch down in your area that you will have less than 10 to 15 minutes of advance warning time to prepare and get to a safe place. It is for this reason that knowing and planning for tornado safety will help keep your family safe during a sudden bout of violent weather.

Watches and Warnings

If you have ever watched your local newscast weather report during a time of severe weather or storms, it is likely that you have seen the maps that are usually posted in the corner of your TV screen that are notifying you of tornado watches and warnings in your area. Watches and warnings are part of a system developed by meteorologists and the National Weather Service to help promote tornado safety and predict where and when a tornado might occur so that they can provide people with as much warning time as possible. It is imperative that you know the difference between the different advisements so that you can take action as necessary.

Watch: A tornado watch is issued when a severe thunderstorm contains a catalytic atmosphere for the development of one or more tornadoes. In other words, it is not happening now – but the potential is present. If you are advised of a watch in your area –remember your tornado safety – try to get indoors and keep an eye on developing weather information as it becomes available.

Warning: If a tornado warning has been issued in your area, it means that a tornado is happening now. Warnings are only issued when tornadoes are either spotted and reported or when Doppler radar detects the rotation as it develops. When a warning is issued, you and your family should take cover immediately and prepare for the tornado to come through.

Advance Tornado Safety Planning

While a tornado warning may only give you a few minutes to prepare for the dangerous storm ahead, preparing early and coming up with a tornado safety plan for you and your loved ones to follow will definitely help reduce panic in times of crisis. It will also help ensure that you have everything you might need in the event of a storm.

What Will I Need?

While you are planning for tornado safety, keep in mind that certain items will be extremely helpful to you in the event that violent weather becomes an issue in your area. Below is a list of objects that you should store away in a safe place for personal use in the event you need them.

  • A battery powered radio – with fresh batteries and an extra set on hand.
  • A flash light for each member of your family – and extra sets of batteries for each.
  • A small stock of medical supplies and a first aid manual in case you are required to perform a task with which you are not familiar.
  • A stash of any prescription drugs you or your family members take in case they become unavailable.
  • Extra car keys, cash, credit cards and copies of personal identification information.
  • A flare to signal for help and matches
  • A change of clothing for each member of your family – for comfort

Keep these items in a safe place in whatever area of your home you select as the emergency tornado meeting area so that you will not have to scramble to find them during an oncoming tornado.

What Should I Do?

If a tornado were to strike in your area, it is important that you and your family have an action plan so that everyone knows what he or she should be doing. This helps to minimize panic and in short, save lives.

Go to Your Safe Place

The first thing that you will need to do in the event of an oncoming tornado is to get you and your family to your pre-determined SAFE PLACE. Your safe place in your home should be a location on the lowest level of your home – either your ground floor, your basement or in some cases an underground storm cellar. Underground is by far the safest place to be but if this is not an option the ground floor is safest.  Your best locations are ones that put the most walls between you and the exterior of your home like a bathroom or interior hallway for example. If a hallway or bathroom is not available, try to choose the room with the least windows – and stay away from them.

Tornado Safety Tip!

*It is important to remember that if you live in a mobile home – it is not safe to try to ride out the storm there. Mobile homes are not capable of withstanding strong winds and staying there will put you and your family at risk. Choose another more sturdy location nearby that you can go to quickly in the event a storm is coming your way.

Protect Yourself

In some cases, basic tornado safety and being in a low-lying interior room may not be enough. If possible, get underneath a large sturdy piece of furniture, such as a table and use one hand to hold on. This puts another layer of protection between you and falling debris, which can cause major injury. Use your other hand to reach around and cover your head and neck.

If You’re in a Car….

You need to remove yourself from the road as quickly as possible – if a tornado is coming towards you; it is very unlikely that you will be able to outrun it without putting yourself and others in further danger. The best tornado safety rule in this situation is to pull over and lie down in a low-lying area that is free from water. Stay away from large trees or telephone poles if possible. Place your hands over your head and keep your face down for protection.

Tornado safety is something that you should take very seriously. These dangerous whirlwind storms are destructive and deadly even sometimes with the best of precautions taken. Remember to stay in your safe place until the storm has clearly passed and it is ok to come out. Debris may still be aloft and falling several moments after a tornado has left the area or dissipated.

Keep your family safe by practicing your tornado safety plan several times per year and doing regular checks of your emergency essentials. Information won’t stop the storms from coming – but it can help us save lives.

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