Tornado Thursday!

Our neighbors to the (Mid)west are seeing quite a flurry (pun intended) of tornado action the past few weeks!

A few tornado safety tips wouldn’t go amiss here in the Mitten — we don’t see a LOT of tornadoes, but part of preparedness is being ready for the unexpected!

Prepare a Home Tornado Plan

  • Pick a place where family members could gather if a tornado is headed your way. It could be your basement or, if there is no basement, a center hallway, bathroom, or closet on the lowest floor. Keep this place uncluttered.
  • If you are in a high-rise building, you may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor. Pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building.

Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit Containing

  • First aid kit and essential medications.
  • Canned food and can opener.
  • At least three gallons of water per person.
  • Protective clothing, bedding, or sleeping bags.
  • Battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.
  • Special items for infant, elderly, or disabled family members.
  • Written instructions on how to turn off electricity, gas, and water if authorities advise you to do so. (Remember, you’ll need a professional to turn natural gas service back on.)

Stay Tuned for Storm Warnings

  • Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information.
  • Know what a tornado WATCH and WARNING means:
    • A tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible in your area.
    • A tornado WARNING means a tornado has been sighted and may be headed for your area. Go to safety immediately.
  • Tornado WATCHES and WARNINGS are issued by county or parish.

When a Tornado WATCH Is Issued…

  • Listen to local radio and TV stations for further updates.
  • Be alert to changing weather conditions. Blowing debris or the sound of an approaching tornado may alert you. Many people say it sounds like a freight train.

When a Tornado WARNING Is Issued…

  • If you are inside, go to the safe place you picked to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects. The tornado may be approaching your area.
  • If you are caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter, or sturdy building. If you cannot get to shelter, a recent study* suggests doing the following:
    • Get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt, and try to drive at right angles to the storm movement and out of the path.
    • If strong winds and flying debris occur while you are driving, pull over and park, keeping seat belts on and the engine running. Put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible.
  • If you are unable to get to a building or vehicle, as a last resort, lie in a ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands.

*Schmidlin T., et al, 2002: Unsafe at any (wind) speed? American Meteorological Society, 1821-30

  • After the Tornado Passes…
    • Watch out for fallen power lines and stay out of the damaged area.
    • Listen to the radio for information and instructions.
    • Use a flashlight to inspect your home for damage.
    • Do not use candles at any time.
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