Tornado Safety Tips
Tornadoes are nature's most violent
and erratic storms. A tornado can travel for miles along the
ground, lift and suddenly change direction and strike again.
There is little you can do to protect your home or workplace from
the strength of tornado winds, but there are actions you can take
to protect yourself and your family better.
Keep alert to changing weather
conditions. Tornadoes are formed by severe
thunderstorms, most frequently in the spring and summer. A tornado
watch is given when weather is favorable to the formation of
tornadoes. A tornado warning is given when a tornado
funnel is sighted or indicated by radar. You should take
shelter immediately. Because tornadoes can form and move
quickly, there may not be time for a warning.
Take shelter immediately when
you hear a tornado warning or see a funnel cloud. Most
often warnings will be given by local radio and television
stations. In addition, some communities have sirens or
whistles to warn of natural disasters. During a tornado
watch, be prepared to take shelter immediately if conditions
Know where your shelter is
before you need it. Although there is no guaranteed safe
place during a tornado, some locations are better than others.
Get to shelter immediately. AVOID
WINDOWS. Flying glass can injure or kill. Don't
open windows. Houses don't "explode" and
allowing strong winds in can do damage or cause
injury. The safest place in the home is an inside room
on the lowest floor, like a closet, hallway, or bathroom
with no windows. For added protection, get under
something strong, like a workbench or heavy table. If
possible, cover your body with a blanket or sleeping bag and
protect your head with anything available, even your hands.
Do not stay in a mobile home during a tornado. Even
homes with a secure tie-down system cannot withstand the force
of tornado winds. Plan ahead. Make arrangements to
stay with friends or neighbors. Go there if a tornado
watch is issued. If a tornado warning is given, leave
your mobile home and seek shelter nearby. Lie flat in a
ditch or ravine and put your arms over your head. Don't
take shelter under your home.
On the Road
The least desirable place to be during a
tornado is in a motor vehicle. Cars, buses, and trucks
are tossed easily by tornado winds. Do not try to outrun
a tornado in your car. If you see a tornado, stop your
vehicle and get out. Seek shelter away from the car in a
nearby ditch or ravine; do not get under your vehicle.
Lie flat and put your arms over your head.
Long Span Buildings
If you are caught in an open building like a
shopping mall, civic center, indoor pool, theater, or
gymnasium during a tornado, stay away from windows. Get
into the restroom, if possible. In larger buildings, the
restrooms are usually made from concrete block. Besides
having four walls and plumbing holding things together, metal
partitions help support any falling debris. If there is
not time to go anywhere, seek shelter right where you
are. Try to get up against something that will support
or deflect falling debris. For instance, in a department
store, get up against heavy shelving or counters.
Remember to protect your head.
Schools, Hospitals, Nursing Homes, and
Extra precautions are needed in these
structures due to the large concentration of people in a small
area and these buildings usually have large amounts of glass
on the outside walls. Get into the innermost portions on
the lowest floor possible. Avoid windows, glass
doorways, and auditoriums and cafeterias not protected by
overhead floors and rooms. Do not use elevators; the
power may go off and you could become trapped. Protect
your head and make yourself as small a target as possible by
In the Open
If you are caught outside during a tornado and there is no
shelter immediately available, lie in a gully, ditch, or low
spot in the ground. Protect your body and head with
anything available. Do not go into a grove of trees or
under a vehicle.
Emergency services personnel are
usually on the scene quickly after a tornado. Keep your
family together and wait for help to arrive. Listen to the
radio for information about disaster relief and assistance
available from local authorities and volunteer agencies. If
you are outside, don't go into damaged buildings; they may
collapse completely. Wait for help to search for
others. If your home appears undamaged, check carefully for
gas or other utility line breaks. If the lights are out, use
a flashlight only; do not use a match, lighter, or any open flame.
By following these suggested safety
tips, you can increase your chances for survival.