Tornado Safety Tips

Tornadoes, which occur when hot air meets cold air in a rapidly changing atmosphere, are indiscriminate killers. Be prepared with these safety tips.

Tornadoes, an anomaly that occurs when hot air meets cold air in a rapidly changing atmosphere, are indiscriminate killers. In the event a tornado is spotted in your area, be prepared.

Nothing is more important that making sure your family knows where to take shelter and what necessities to keep within arms length inside the shelter. The following information can save your life or the life of a family member.

The key to keeping your family safe includes:

1. Be prepared

2. Move quickly

3. Don't take chances

When do tornadoes occur?

Tornadoes are unpredictable, erratic, and volatile. A tornado can develop at any time of the day or night. According to tracking devices used by weather stations, most tornadoes appear in the months of May and June, and most frequently in the United States. Between the states of Texas and Nebraska tornadoes are so frequent the name "Tornado Alley" has been adopted. But, though more frequent in some areas, twisters can develop at any time in any part of the world, if the right conditions occur.

When to take shelter.

A tornado watch simply means conditions are right for a tornado to develop. A tornado warning means a tornado has been spotted: take cover. When you hear the words take cover, do exactly that, and do it immediately. Don't become a statistic.

If you are in your home, take cover in the basement. If you do not have a basement, find a bathroom or inside room with no windows and shut the door. Other places include a stairwell or an inside closet. Mattresses and blankets should be used as protectors against flying glass and other debris. Once a tornado hits your home, anything may be thrown about the room and smashed, no matter how big. Pieces of paper have been known to slice into people's bodies with the force of the wind. Keep your body covered.

If you are in a car, don't try to outrun a twister. Tornados move at an average speed of 25 mph, but can move much more quickly depending on each individual storm. Tornadoes also may zig-zag without a moment's notice. Instead, find a building or ditch for shelter.

If you live in a motor home, seek shelter elsewhere. Motor homes are not safe. If you know there is a tornado coming, go to your nearest neighbor and seek shelter in their basement.

If you are out-of-doors, find a depression or ditch and stay low to the ground.

Be prepared ahead of time.

Since tornados strike at all hours of the day and night, you won't have time to prepare once a tornado watch or warning is issued. Find a shelf in your basement out of the way and store your tornado necessities. Your tornado bag should include the basic medical kit, emergency lighting, and food and water.

Twister Kit:

Emergency first aid bag (including pain medicine for adults and for children)

battery operated All-Band Weather radio (extra batteries)

2 handheld flashlights with batteries, or one flashlight for each member of the family(keep batteries in separate plastic bags until needed)

2 gallon-size jugs of water (at least)

Food (unopened crackers, fruit roll-ups, granola bars, peanut butter, and canned protein-remember to pack a hand-operated can opener if you store canned goods)

Blankets and pillows

Games (preferably those that won't require too much light)

Pens, paper and a deck of cards

(All items should be checked periodically and changed or discarded as needed.)

Be careful with candles--gas leaks are inevitable when disaster strikes. Use candles as a last resort.

Everything should be stored in plastic bags for freshness.

Basically, necessities are the only things you should put in your Twister Kit, but, in the event a tornado is spotted heading your way, it's advisable to grab any prescription medication, a cell phone, your daughter's favorite blanket and doll, cash and important papers, and the cat. Again, that is only if there is time. Do not waste time searching for something you feel is too valuable to leave behind. The key is to be prepared ahead of time, move quickly once you have been notified of a weather disaster, and don't take chances.

Finally, set a place for your family to meet after a disaster has occurred. This will eliminate most of the aftermath worries. At least you will be able to find each other easily.

For more information, or a complete guide to natural disasters, contact your local Weather Channel or The American Red Cross.

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