I live in tornado valley. Or at least when I was growing up it used to be. Things have calmed down a bit since my childhood, at least comparatively speaking. But we still have tornados so my family and I are very familiar with the tornado preparedness and response. However, you may not have had to worry about tornados before. Either you just moved to an area that is vulnerable to such storms, you may experience a rare storm event, or your family or spouse took care of planning and response. It is important for you to be informed. Even if you family or spouse is still around, the day may come when you need to be prepared yourself. So here are some helpful tips for preparing for and responding to a tornado.
Preparing for a Tornado
Prior to tornado season, typically when warm weather turn cold or cold weather turns warm, be sure to do the following things.
Put together a tornado survival kit and Put all of the objects into a container and place in the shelter/closet/safe room where you go during tornado warning.
It is not a bad idea to have a small generator on hand. A tornado destroyed a number of power stations in our area and most of the city was without electricity for almost a week.
Store critical documents safely in the (interior) shelter, along with a recent copy of one of your utility bills. If your neighborhood is wiped out, you’ll need to prove to authorities that you live there. Write down:
If you have special needs, write down your specific needs, limitations, capabilities, and medications. Keep this list on your person or in a purse. Find someone nearby who agrees to assist you in case of an emergency. Give them a copy of your list. Make a spare key to your home available to them if the person does not live with you.
Once tornado season arrives, pay close attention to weather conditions daily. Because tornadoes often accompany thunderstorms, pay close attention to changing weather conditions when there is a severe thunderstorm watch or warning. Some tornadoes strike rapidly, without time for a tornado warning, and sometimes without a thunderstorm in the vicinity. When you are watching for rapidly emerging tornadoes, it is important to know that you cannot depend on seeing a funnel: clouds or rain may block your view. The following weather signs may mean that a tornado is approaching:
If you notice any of these weather conditions, take cover immediately, and keep tuned to local radio and TV stations or to a NOAA weather radio.
First and foremost, stay tuned to your local tv or radio station for storm watches and warnings. When there are thunderstorms in your area, turn on your radio or TV to get the latest emergency information from local authorities. You could lose power at any moment so have a battery powered radio on hand. A weather radio is a wonderful alarm tool, especially in the evening hours when you are asleep, but will not have the detailed information on the tornado path. It is recommended to have both and not one or the other. I would suggest a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio that can be programmed for your immediate area. Otherwise, you will be getting alarms throughout a large region. The last thing you want to do is turn off the alarm because you are tired of hearing the unit sound for areas outside of your danger zone. If needed, get a friend, family member, or local radio or tv station help center to program your unit. NOAA weather radios are the best way to receive warnings from the National Weather Service. These radios provide continuous updates on all the weather conditions in your area. The range of these radios depends on where you live, but the average range is 40 miles.
Some areas, especially those more vulnerable to tornado generating storms, have public warning systems. These stations are a powerful means of notifying the public of a potential or verified tornado. But they may not be heart from all homesteads or during the night. So once again, do not rely on a single warning system.
When weather conditions are expected to degrade or degrade unexpectedly, authorities will send out the relevant watch or warning notice. Be sure you know how to distinguish between warnings for a tornado watch and a tornado warning.
A tornado watch is issued when weather conditions favor the formation of tornadoes, for example, during a severe thunderstorm.
During a Tornado Watch
During a Tornado Warning
A tornado warning is issued when a tornado funnel is sighted or indicated by weather radar. However, there is not guarantee that a warning will be sent in time for a response. The initial site of a funnel may be at your front door! So if you see a funnel cloud nearby, take shelter immediately. There is no need to wait for a formal warning notice. Even if the path of the tornado does not appear to put you in imminent danger, the funnels can take sudden and dramatic change of direction without notice.
Shelter for People with Special Needs
In a Mobile Home
On the Road
A long-span building, such as a shopping mall, theater, or gymnasium, is especially dangerous because the roof structure is usually supported solely by the outside walls. Most such buildings hit by tornados cannot withstand the enormous pressure. They simply collapse.
Office Buildings, Schools, Hospitals, Churches, and Other Public Buildings
You may find yourself caught in an office, school, hospital, or any building where a large group of people is concentrated in a small area. The exterior walls of these type buildings often have large windows.
Response After a Tornado
You or your loved one may be Injured from flying debris, structural collapse, or walking upon debris caused by the tornado. Because tornadoes often damage power lines, gas lines, and/or electrical systems, there is a risk of fire, electrocution, or an explosion. Use extreme caution to avoid these and any other hazards.
Do not attempt to move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Get medical assistance immediately. 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. If you are trapped, try to attract attention to your location and use your whistle to get the attention of those searching for survivors.
If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve and leave the house immediately. Notify the gas company, the police or fire departments, or other authority. Do not turn on the lights, light matches, smoke, or do anything that could cause a spark. Do not return to your house until you are told it is safe to do so.
Once the storm has passed, even if you are uninjured and your home is not damaged, the surrounding area may have been impacted.