Following the aftermath of deadly tornados in Texas and throughout Oklahoma earlier this summer, many have realized the importance of preparing for these times of crisis. Tornados can pop out of the sky and wreak havoc on communities in a matter of minutes, devastating families and destroying whole towns.
There is no way to guarantee safety during a natural disaster, but there are some precautions you can take to better your chances. If you ever find yourself caught in the path of a tornado, follow these instructions and be careful!
How to know a tornado might strike
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) advises that residents look out for common tornado danger signs including: dark, low flying clouds, a sound similar to a freight train and large hail. In addition, tornados are often spotted after the sky has turned a pale green. If you notice the sky turn a sickly color, be cautious of a tornado strike.
If a tornado watch has been announced in your area, it means a tornado is possible. You should be on the lookout for signs of danger, but you don't necessarily have to seek shelter. A tornado warning, on the other hand, is much more serious and you should find protection immediately. This warning means a twister has touched down or the Doppler radar has spotted one in your area.
Keep safe inside your home
If you are in your home when a tornado is on a destructive path, get as far away as you can from windows, doors and exterior walls. You will be the safest in a central room, basement or storm cellar, so move to those areas if you can. Cover yourself with a mattress, blanket or sleeping bag to protect yourself from flying debris. Since tornado winds can reach speeds of more than 200 mph, the items picked up and thrown haphazardly during a storm can be the deadliest part of a twister.
Avoid danger in buildings
Tornados don't always strike when you're tucked safely inside your home. You might be stuck at work or school, shopping at the mall, catching a movie or working out at the gym. In situations, such as these, when you're trapped in a large building, get to the lowest level possible — a basement is ideal. You also want to make sure you are far away from any windows, such as in a restroom. If you can't make it to a lower level, the safest place to stand is under something sturdy, such as a door frame. It should retain its support and can help deflect falling debris. Keep yourself covered as best you can.
Get out of your car
A vehicle is the last place you want to be when a tornado touches down because they are easily picked up by tornado force winds. Instead get out and run to the nearest building or a storm shelter if you can find one. But avoid running to mobile homes, as they are prone to destruction from twisters and offer little protection for you. Get somewhere safe, such as a central room or basement as mentioned above.
Stay protected outside
If you find yourself outside, with no shelter options, get to the lowest part of the ground you can find. Any ditch or depression in the ground can provide some protection from the strong winds and flying debris. Lay down flat and cover your head with your hands for the best chance of survival. Tornados can strike during massive storms, so beware of any flooding that might occur and watch out for debris.