If you live in an area where you’re likely to be hit by a tornado, do you have a detailed safety plan in place? Here’s what you need to know in order to weather these deadly storms.
Identify Safe Rooms
Where can you shelter in your home, office, school, or church? That’s the most important question you need to answer if you live in a tornado-vulnerable area.
The ideal place to shelter is a reinforced basement. If that’s not an option, your next best option is an interior room on the ground floor. You should not shelter in a room with windows. If you can’t get to the ground floor, then choose a hallway as close to the center of the building as possible.
If you’re in a mobile home, there is no safe space to shelter. You’ll need to get to a permanent shelter as quickly as possible.
Practice Getting to Your Shelter
Speed is of the essence when sheltering from a tornado. You should practice, practice, practice until it’s second nature. Every member of your household should know their responsibilities and be able to execute them quickly.
Don’t forget that kids, the elderly, and pets will need extra help and fewer responsibilities. But everyone should have a task to help them feel fully invested in the disaster prep.
What If You Get Caught Outside?
Ideally, you’ll be in a sturdy building when a tornado strikes. But if you’re in a car or outdoors, you still need to find the best shelter possible.
If you’re in a car, don’t try to outrun the storm. Pull over, get out of the car, and find the lowest point in the nearby terrain. Cover your head with your arms–or, even better, grab a thick blanket from your car disaster kit.
Stay in place until the storm passes. The only reason you should move before then is if you’re in danger from flooding.
Stock Your Shelter
As with any disaster plan, you should stock your shelter with plenty of water, non-perishable food, and first aid supplies.
You should also be prepared to deal with storm damage to your property as well as flooding. Plywood, a hammer and nails, and tarps are must-haves.
Once you’ve been given the all-clear to leave your shelter, you should turn off the water, electricity, and gas at your home. The storm can damage utilities, so it’s vital to turn them off.
Post-tornado house fires are incredibly common, so make fire prevention and management a priority. Stock fire extinguishers in your shelter–but remember not to enter a home that’s obviously unsafe.