Although tornadoes strike in every month of the year in the United States, April and May are the two months with the most recorded tornado strikes. Even though chances are against anyone being impacted by the destruction of a tornado, knowing what to look for and what to do can make a big difference should that impact occur. In past years, many people have found themselves in the path of a tornado without knowing it was coming, but in today’s information age, this is less likely.
Anytime you see strange weather patterns developing and the skies are getting dark and stormy, you should tune in to the local news station, or find The Weather Channel or NOAA on the internet. Keep in mind that a tornado watch means that conditions are such that a tornado is possible. A tornado warning means that a tornado has been spotted and it is time to seek safety. If you hear a tornado warning, seek immediate shelter.
Be alert for clouds moving fast, especially in a rotating pattern or in the opposite direction they are accustomed to moving in the area. Also, quiet before the storm’ is more than just a saying, it can indicate an impending storm or tornado. If you actually see a funnel shaped cloud rotating along the ground, you could be in imminent danger. If the cloud does not appear to be moving from side to side, it could be heading directly toward you. Seek shelter immediately.
The main thing to do, as with any emergency, is to be prepared and know where to go and what to do in case of a tornado. The safest place to be during a tornado is in a windowless basement, preferably away from the south and west walls. Even there, hide under the stairwell or a heavy bench or table in case the structure collapses. If you don’t have access to a basement, get to a small windowless room on the first floor, such as a closet or bathroom. If a bathroom is available, inside the tub can be the safest location.
Besides knowing where to go, it is important to have an emergency kit in or accessible to the shelter area that you can get to during a tornado. This kit should contain at least the following items:
A flashlight and extra batteries
A battery powered radio and extra batteries
Canned foods and a can opener and utensils
A tornado can be a very frightening experience, but it doesn’t have to be a life threatening one. Be prepared, be alert, and be safe.