Tornadoes, storms, and sandstorms are all types of wind phenomena that can be deadly if you’re caught off guard. That’s especially true for tornadoes, which usually appear with only 13 minutes notice—if any—and touch down quickly.
Tornadoes might strike at any time, but “tornado season,” as it is known, lasts from March to June on the Gulf Coast and southern Plains, and from March to July in the northern Plains and upper Midwest. While most tornadoes strike between 4 and 9 p.m., as they do so with little notice, being prepared to act before a twister even forms can improve your chances of surviving and protecting your house and loved ones.
Volunteers respond to tornadoes all around the United States each year. Here are ten things disaster relief professionals have discovered to help you and your family prepare for a tornado.
Learn to Recognize the Indicators of a Tornado
Tornadoes may appear with little or no notice, however there are certain indications that a tornado is developing or in progress.
A thunderstorm that develops into a tornado is called an “outflow,” and it may be accompanied by wind gusts of up to 150 mph. Clouds capable of spinning around like a funnel, rotating and funnel-shaped clouds, clouds of debris, and extremely loud rumbling or roaring sounds are all warning indicators that a twister is on the way.
Take note of the Community Warning System.
When a tornado approaches, many communities in tornado prone regions have sirens and alarms that go off. Learn to identify the warning sound. It’s also vital to understand what the various warnings indicate and when to keep an eye out.
- Tornado Watch: It’s possible that tornadoes could touch down. Locate a secure refuge and get ready to go inside as soon as possible.
- Tornado Warning: A tornado has been reported. Take cover as soon as possible.
Take Action Now to Prepare for the Tornado Situation
Check on your neighbors as soon as you hear there may be a storm approaching, and implement your emergency plan.
What to Do If a Tornado Strikes Your Area
There is no time to lose if one has been seen visually or on radar.
During a tornado, seek refuge in the safest spot possible.
The safest place to be during a tornado is underground. If you have a basement or cellar, use it as soon as possible after seeing lightning.
If your home doesn’t have a basement, cellar, or below-ground location to seek safety in, seek protection in a windowless room on the ground floor for the duration of the storm.
Ride Out Any Tornado Indoors
During a storm, the safest place is inside, not outside. If a tornado appears to be approaching, do not go outside and do not go outside during the storm even if it appears to be quiet. A single twister may spawn a second. Flying debris can kill you when you leave your home during high wind situations, whether it’s visible or not.
Surviving a Tornado While in a car
TORNADOES ARE UNPREDICTABLE. If a tornado approaches or touches down while you’re driving, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to outrun or outmaneuver it. Cover yourself with blankets and extra clothing if possible, lie down on your stomach, keep your seatbelt on, and cover your head and neck with your arms if you can’t get into a building or a below-ground parking lot.
Keeping an eye on local weather reports, paying attention to emergency announcements on your phone, or listening to your local NOAA weather radio station can all help you stay one step ahead of the weather. Also, tuning into that NOAA radio channel will give you up-to-date information about the storm’s strength and duration as well as useful information about its growth.
After a storm has passed, leave it be.
After the storm has passed, it’s not unusual for trees and utility poles to be down. Avoid any pole with wires attached until authorities say it’s okay, and don’t try to remove downed trees on your own.
The damage caused by a storm can be devastating, but sometimes the greatest threats to you and your family come not from the storm itself, but rather from the days that follow. To avoid a tragedy after the calamity, stay safe by avoiding downed wires and staying away from dangling branches.
Before a Tornado Strikes, Practice Twister Preparation
There are things you can do to improve your chances of surviving a tornado if you live in an area under a Tornado Watch. No one should attempt to board windows or clear yard debris once it has reached the Tornado Watch stage, but there are steps that may be taken to help prevent mortality.
Secure the Goods
The first step in tornado preparedness is to survey your property and remove any objects that may be lifted and carried by the wind, which starts months before there are even a few clouds on the horizon. During tornado season, evaluate your home and remove any items that might be lifted into the air and carried away by the winds. Locate anything that can’t be eliminated, secure it, then get rid of everything else.
Learn the Basics of First Aid and CPR and Create a First-Aid Kit
A motor vehicle accident may obstruct a number of roads and highways, making it difficult for emergency vehicles to access you if you are injured and in need of urgent medical assistance.
Learning how to do CPR, as well as the fundamentals of wound and injury treatment, might be the difference between life and death.
Preparing for a tornado does not end with recognizing warning indicators and locating your safe room. Learning how to pack your own preparedness kit as well as how to prepare for additional calamities such as floods, fires, hurricanes, and earthquakes may make all the difference in between a bad day and an utter catastrophe.