Tornado Shelter Safety Tips And Guidelines

You can give yourself and your loved ones the best possible chance at surviving a tornado.

Tornadoes are a powerful reminder of how fragile humans and their structures are in the face of nature, and can level an entire town in a matter of minutes. They can occur anywhere in the world, at any time; tornadoes have been recorded in every month of the year. Rarely, however, will they happen without adequate warning for those who pay attention to the weather. By planning ahead and being alert to weather conditions, you can give yourself and your loved ones the best possible chance at surviving a tornado.

Most tornadoes occur in the months of April, May, and June, but they can form anytime conditions are favorable. The most common time of day for them to strike is between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m., but devastating tornadoes have hit during early morning hours when most people are sleeping. To protect yourself during this vulnerable time, you should purchase a weather radio with an alarm for severe weather events. For about $80, these radios can be programmed for the specific area in which you live, and wake your family when danger threatens.

Advance planning is also important. At home, every family member should know the safest place in the house in the event of severe weather, and tornado drills should be practiced the same as fire drills. In this safe area, it is helpful to store a radio with batteries, at least one flashlight, a first aid kit, and any other needs that family members might have as they wait out the storm (such as diapers, bottled water, blankets, essential medications). However, since a tornado might strike when you aren't home, it's important to know the best location for shelter in any place you're likely to be.



Stay aware of the weather, wherever you may be. If a storm is approaching, tune to a television or radio station that is likely to provide good weather information. You might choose to change plans if severe weather threatens, to avoid car travel or to avoid being in a location without adequate shelter. A car is one of the worst places to be in the event of a tornado. This may cause inconvenience, but canceling an appointment or being late to a meeting is inconsequential when compared to a serious threat on your life.

In the event of a tornado, the safest place is in a cellar or basement. It does not matter where you are in the underground area. Forget the outdated advice to open windows to prevent damage due to low pressure - the first concern should be to get away from windows. If there is no cellar or basement available, seek shelter in a small room on the lowest floor, such as a closet or bathroom. Wrap yourself in a blanket or mattress, protecting your face and eyes. If no center room is available, use a small room on an east wall. Wherever you may be, try to get under a sturdy piece of furniture such as a workbench or sturdy table. If your home is unsafe, especially if you live in a mobile home, be familiar with community shelters and move your family there before a severe storm hits, especially if it has a history of producing hail and damaging winds.

In an office, factory, apartment, or school building, the best place is an interior hallway on the lowest level, on the floor, protecting your eyes and face. A centrally located stairwell is a good choice, especially if the stairs are not open between the steps. Avoid buildings and rooms with large roof surfaces.

If the worst happens and you are in a car when a tornado approaches, get out of the car immediately. Head for the nearest building if possible, or for the lowest ground, a ditch or ravine. tuck your legs under your body and protect your face and head.

After the storm hits, you may be tempted to drive around sightseeing or offering help. Certainly, assisting your immediate neighbors through an emergency or helping to clear fallen debris can be useful, but avoid driving during this time. Not only may you be in danger from fallen power lines or other unsafe conditions, but you may also get in the way of expert rescue efforts.

Tornadoes are frightening and can be deadly, but with advance planning and preparation it is possible to increase your chances of survival. Pay attention to developing severe weather, change plans if necessary, and be prepared to head to the safest place in your location. With care and a bit of luck, you may emerge from the devastation with a fascinating story to tell.

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