Tornado Safety Tips From The Federal Emergency Management Agency
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 better prepare yourself and your family.
Basic Safety Rules
·Keep alert to changing weather conditions
·Take shelter immediately when you hear a tornado warning or see a funnel cloud
·Know where your shelter is before you need it
·Tornadoes are formed by severe thunderstorms, most frequently in the spring and summer. If you live in a tornado-prone area, stay alert during severe weather.
·Know your community's warning signals. Most often, warnings will be given by a local radio and television stations, and by NOAA Weather Radio. In addition, some communities have sirens or whistles to warn of natural disasters.
Watches and Warnings
A TORNADO WATCHis given when weather conditions are favorable to the formation of tornadoes. Forexample, during severe thunderstorms. During a tornado watch, keep an eye on the weather, and be prepared to take shelter immediately if conditions worsen.
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. That's why it's important to stay alert during severe storms.
Although there is no guaranteed safe place during a tornado, some locations are better than others. By following these suggested safety tips, you can increase your chances for survival.
One basic rule to follow, wherever you are, is to AVOID WINDOWS. An exploding window can injure or kill. Don't take the time to open windows; get to shelter immediately.
The safest place in the home, is the interior part of the basement, preferably under something sturdy, like a table. Stay out from under heavy objects like pianos or refrigerators located on the floor above.
If you have no basement, or cannot get there, go to an inside room on the lowest floor of the house, 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 who have basements. 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.
Encourage your mobile home community to build a tornado shelter, if you live in a tornado-prone area.
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. Life flat, and put your arms over your head.
Long Span Buildings
Long span buildings are especially dangerous, because the entire roof structure is usually supported solely by the outside walls. Inside walls are usually false or non-load bearing walls.
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 the four walls and plumbing holding things together, the metal partitions help support any falling debris.
If there isn't 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. In a theater, get under the seats. Remember to protect your head.
Schools, Hospitals, Nursing Homes, And Office Buildings
Extra precautions are needed in these structures. Not only is there a large concentration of people in a small area, but these buildings usually have large amounts of glass on the outside walls.
Get into the inner-most portions, on the lowest floor possible.
Avoid windows and glass doorways
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 crouching down.
In the Open
If you are caught outside during a tornado, and there is no underground 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 for gas or other utility line breaks carefully. If the lights are out, use a flashlight only; do not use a match, lighter, or any open flame.