Tornadoes leave great damage along their paths. Lives, animals and properties are lost. Check out our tornado survival tips to help you prepare.
How to Survive a Tornado
With tornado season in full swing and recent news of tornadoes in Colorado and Oklahoma (see the video below for footage), we thought it was important to remind our readers of proper tornado safety procedures.
The United States has the most frequent and powerful tornadoes in the world, so tornado survival should be every prepper’s priority as far as natural disasters are concerned. Although your area may not be regularly hit by these gigantic and dangerous whirlwinds, there is no reason for you not to prepare for them. You never know when one could strike.
The most popular tornado survival solution these days are storm shelters. This is reinforced by the fact that manufactured shelters are selling well. More importantly, it’s comforting to know that the number of fatalities caused by tornadoes have gone down.
Another factor is being prepared for these occurrences. Weather updates via TV, radio and the internet have also helped. After so much death and damage, more and more citizens have learned how to deal with this severe weather condition. These improvements should not be cause for anyone to be complacent, though. Tornadoes are dangerous and unpredictable as ever. You can also check out a previous post on these twisters. This time we have put together more tornado survival tips to remind you to be ready when they come.
Steps to Take Before a Tornado
1. Prepare a tornado emergency kit.
Having a kit ready is one key to tornado survival. Via lan7964
- Non-perishable food such as MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat)
- Non-electric can opener
- Water (1 gallon per person per day for 3 days)
- Shelter in the form of a tent or tarps
- Rain gear
- Emergency power source (generator)
- Emergency blankets or sleeping bag
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- Cell phone and charger
- Chainsaw and fuel
- Shovels, picks, pry bars, wooden poles for removing electric wires
- Signal flares
- Battery, solar or self-powered radio
- Light sticks (shake or break light sticks)
- Air horn or whistles for signaling
- First aid kit that includes splints and bandages and first aid manual
- Medicine (prescription medications, and over-the-counter pain killers, etc.)
- Study shoes or boots
- Cash and credit cards (Read more!)
2. Develop an emergency communications plan.
Have a plan for getting back together in case family members are separated from one another during a tornado. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to act as the family contact. After a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address and phone number of the contact person. Click here for the full post.
3. Trim trees and shrubbery.
- Make it a habit to prune trees and shrubs to minimize damage. Via mymetroconstruction.com
Pay particular attention to weak or dead branches that could fall on your home or your neighbor’s home. (Continue reading.)
4. Take Inventory
Make an inventory of your possessions. Take photographs and / or videotape your belongings. Keep records in a safe deposit box or some other safe place away from the premises. You may want these to aid later insurance claims. (Read more here.)
5. Prepare a safe room.
Extreme windstorms in many parts of the country pose a serious threat to buildings and their occupants. Your residence may be built “to code,” but that does not mean it can withstand winds from extreme events such as tornadoes and major hurricanes. The purpose of a safe room or a wind shelter is to provide a space where you and your family can seek refuge that provides a high level of protection. You can build a safe room in one of several places in your home. (See more.)
6. Practice your plan.
Make sure children in the home know where to go when a tornado threatens. Click here to read the whole article.
7. Register your name.
If you are a person with special needs, register your name and address with your local emergency management agency, police and fire departments before any natural or man-made disaster. (Read more.)
8. Get somewhere safe ahead of time.
If you have a home without a basement and you know that a tornado-warned storm is brewing around you, try heading to someplace safer. If you have a friend or relative with a storm shelter or basement, head over there. If you live in a mobile home, even simply heading to McDonald’s or a concrete built local church to hang out is likely to offer better protection. (Continue reading.)
9. Conduct tornado drills each tornado season.
10. Bring a radio.
When you’re vacationing, always bring along a NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards and have a place of safety in mind in the event severe weather threatens. (See more.)
Know the Difference
The term “tornado watch” means that tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans, and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives!
The term “tornado warning” means that a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Go immediately under ground to a basement, storm cellar or an interior room (closet, hallway or bathroom). Read more.
- The Enhanced Fujita Scale gives an idea to how strong the windstorm is and what to do to ensure tornado survival. Click here to see the larger image.
During a Tornado
1. Get in the basement
Avoid windows. Get in the basement and under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag. Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) and do not go under them. They may fall down through a weakened floor and crush you. Head protection, such as a helmet, can offer some protection also. Click here to read the full post.
2. Leave your mobile home
Get out! People are 15 times more likely to die in a mobile home than any other location. Even mobile homes with a tie-down system cannot withstand the strong winds of a twister. Take shelter in a permanent building if you can. If no other shelter is available, lie facedown in a ditch and cover your head with your arms and hands. (Read more.)
3. Wear a helmet
“People die by getting hit in the head with debris,” says Harold Brooks, a research meteorologist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma. “We recommend a helmet even if you’re in a basement.” (See more here.)
4. Find a ditch
- When you are caught in a windstorm, a ditch is your shot at tornado survival. Via usgs.gov
- Find a ditch, depression or ravine in the ground, lie flat and cover your head. Be aware of the potential for flash floods. Watch for flying debris, as they cause the most fatalities during tornadoes. (Continue reading.)
5. Go the opposite direction
If you are in a car, do not try to outrun a tornado, as it can travel at speeds in excess of 70 mph. However, it is worth taking a moment to watch the tornado closely, comparing its motion to a fixed object on the ground, so as to gauge its direction of travel. If you see it moving to one side or the other, and can travel in the opposite direction, then do so. If it does not appear to move to the left or right, it is headed straight for you. In that case, you must make a decision. (Read more.)
6. Get away from windows
Tornadoes can make windows suddenly shatter as if they were exploding. It’s another myth that opening windows can somehow equalize the pressure inside the huse and out. In the words of the National Weather Service’s FAQ, opening windows “is absolutely useless, a waste of precious time, and can be dangerous.” (For the full post click here.)
7. Buy a weather radio and use it
- Tornado survival is also about being up to date with the latest weather conditions. Via amazon.com
- TV and radio stations are a great source of information but they have to be turned on. A weather radio can sound an alarm if your county has a tornado warning, alerting you to the danger during the night. (See more.)
8. Stay low to the ground
If you’re in a motel, lie down in the lowest-level interior hallway away from glass. Dive under a bed or pull a mattress on top of you as last resort. (Read more.)
9. Stay away from large buildings
Avoid shopping malls, theaters, gymnasiums, and other buildings with large open interior spaces where the roof might easily collapse.
If inside of such a building, with no time to seek shelter elsewhere, seek shelter under a doorjamb or next to an interior wall that may provide some structural support and protection in the event of a building collapse. (Click here for the full post.)
10. Remain in your shelter until the danger of tornadoes has passed
- For tornado survival, stay in the safe room until the windstorm is completely gone. Via gfsstormshelters.com
- If possible, listen for advisories from the National Weather Service (in the U.S.) or on local radio or TV. Keep in mind that multiple tornadoes often form in an area, and it may not be safe to leave shelter even after one tornado has passed. (Continue reading.)
Steps to Take After a Tornado
1. Assess the damage.
After a tornado passes, it is important to take some precautions. Be careful as your leave your tornado shelter, since there might be unseen damage waiting for you on the other side of doors. If your home has been damaged, walk carefully around the outside and check for things like loose power lines, gas leaks, and general structural damage. Leave the premises if you smell gas or if floodwaters exist around the building. Call your insurance agent and take pictures of the damage to your home or vehicle. If the destruction is extensive, don’t panic. The American Red Cross and other volunteer agencies will arrive with food and water, and temporary housing will be designated by FEMA. (Read more.)
2. Make whatever temporary repairs you can.
- Doing some of the repairs will make your insurance claims more reasonable for the insurance company. Via startribune.com
- Cover broken windows and damaged roofs and walls to prevent further destruction. Save the receipts for any supplies and materials you purchase as your insurance company will reimburse you for reasonable expenses incurred by making temporary repairs. (See more.)
3. Check for injuries.
Do not attempt to move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Get medical assistance immediately. If someone has stopped breathing, begin CPR if you are trained to do so. Stop a bleeding injury by applying direct pressure to the wound. Clean out all open wounds and cuts with soap and clean water. Apply an antibiotic ointment. Contact a doctor to find out whether more treatment is needed (such as a tetanus shot). If a wound gets red, swells, or drains, seek immediate medical attention. Have any puncture wound evaluated by a physician. If you are trapped, try to attract attention to your location. (To read the whole article click here.)
4. Stay off the streets.
If you must go outside, watch for hazards created by the tornado, such as fallen objects, downed electrical wires, weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks. Stay away from damaged areas, unless your assistance has been specifically requested by police, fire, or relief organizations. (Continue reading.)
5. Wear the right shoes.
Moving around after a tornado exposes your feet to debris that may injure you. Via pixabay.com.
- Wear hard-soled shoes, to avoid injuring feet amid the broken glass in the debris field left in the aftermath. (Read more.)