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What to Do in the Case of a Tornado

by ben 19 May 2009
Spring is here and that means tornado warnings will be ringing through the Midwest. These storms are dangerous and require planning and preparation to survive them safely. When I think of a tornado, besides thinking of “The Wizard of Oz”, Dorothy, and her little dog, Toto, I think of a story on the news about a small town in the mid-west that was dramatically affected by a Tornado. When I remember this tragic news report I recall realizing that people don’t plan to fail; they fail to plan. In order to help you make sure you’re prepared in the case of a tornado, here are 4 simple guidelines to follow: Step 1 - Have a Safe Shelter If you’re inside your house when you see a tornado or hear the sirens, go down to your basement or the lowest floor in your house. A windowless bathroom can be a good place to seek shelter during a tornado because of the pipes running throughout the walls. These pipes strengthen the walls, which makes them less likely to collapse in the event of a tornado. Find a thick blanket to cover yourself and lay down in your bathtub for better protection. (Doing this will lessen the chance of getting hit with debris.) Another good place to seek shelter in your home would be a closet or bedroom without any windows. Whether you’re at home, work, or school will also depend on how you should take shelter. If you live in a location that is prone to tornadoes check with your employer or teacher to see what area’s they recommend for employees or students to seek shelter in. Step 2 - Have an Emergency Kit In addition to knowing where to go, it is important to have an emergency-supply kit nearby and accessible during a tornado. This kit should contain at least enough supplies for 72 hours. This is the standard amount of time it takes rescuers to get to victims after a major emergency. Tornado Preparedness Checklist Your 72-hr kit should include the following: • Food & Water • Warmth (& some form of temporary Shelter) • Light & Communication • Emergency Tools • Sanitation & Hygiene Other personal items that you might want to include into your 72-hour kit: • Prescription medications and glasses • Infant formula and diapers • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, birth certificates, marriage certificates, and bank account records kept in a waterproof, portable container • Cash or traveler’s checks and change • Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children • Pre-Paid Phone Card or coins set aside for an emergency Step 3 - Communicate with Friends & Family If you are away from your friends & family we highly recommend that you have a set plan in case of a disaster in your area. • 3a) Have a Place to Meet out of your immediate area: It is recommended to have a someone out-of-state to contact after an emergency. This is to let someone know that you’re all right or if you need help. Sometimes after disaster local calls cannot be made due to the destruction. (Note: You may have trouble getting through, or the telephone system may be down altogether but stay calm and wait for the phone lines to get back up) • 3b) Have a location where you plan to meet up: Communicate with the person that is out of your area and inform them of where you are heading, so when other family or friends contact that person they will be able to inform your loved ones of where you are, or where they can meet you. • 3c) Listen to the Radio/TV for information: The fastest, most accurate ways for a message to get out to the community is by radio and by television. Make sure you have access to one or the other and listen to hear updates so you can understand the situation that is before you, and so you will know where relief will be sent. We recommend that you have a radio that has channels specifically meant for updates in disasters like shortwave, Weather Radio (NWR), or NOAA Weather (NWR). Step 4 - Understanding the Signs of a Tornado There are many different warning signs that a tornado is coming, below is a list of the most common signs that you should pay attention to: • Green Skies - It has often been said that one of the simplest signs of a tornado is the sky turning green. While a green sky alone doesn’t indicate that a tornado is definitely coming, it is one of the first signs that tornadoes give of their presence. • Hail or Heavy Rain - Often times hail will fall that is significantly larger than usual on a warm day. If you do notice this go inside and check your local forecast. • Tornado Sirens - If living in an area that is commonly affected by a tornado you know the sounds of the siren. Don’t take the siren lightly and seek shelter immediately. • Whirling dust or Debris - If you see large amounts of debris & dust starting to pick up under a cloud base this is one of the key signs to seek shelter. • The Silence - Right before a tornado the air may suddenly become still and quiet. When seeking shelter if it becomes quiet, this does not mean it’s safe to walk around and check for damages. It is recommended to wait until your tornado sirens indicate that the tornado is over to leave your shelter.
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