Tornados are the nature’s most violent storms, which can devastate landscapes and take away lives within a couple of seconds. The enormity of some tornados can be beyond imagination and the destructive power of the same is also unpredictable. Thus, when an area has been put under a tornado warning, one should not take a chance by waiting to see the real thing through his or her own eyes. At the same time, everyone living in tornado risk areas should know what they should do when a tornado warning has been issued. This article will therefore describe the safety measures that should be undertaken during such warnings and how to adapt to different situations in order to minimize the risk to safety.
The importance of a sturdy shelter
During a storm, a sturdy shelter is an absolute essential, because it will protect the person from flying debris and from the pulling forces of the tornado. Not all shelters can be classified as ‘safe,’ although most building with a firm base and a basement should provide adequate support to prevent any life losses.
Using the basement optimally
When the shelter or the house consists of a basement, one should take steps to use it during a tornado warning while taking care to avoid windows, because the debris from outside or from scattered windows may cause injuries or the tornado may pull someone through the window if it is not protected adequately. Ideally, one should seek cover under a heavy table or a workbench located within the basement, while avoiding seeking shelter close to heavy objects that might fall during the tornado.
When there is no basement
When the house or the shelter does not offer a basement, one should take shelter in a small room located inside the building away from the windows in the lowest possible floor. Crouching as low as possible and covering the head with both hands should be useful in preventing injuries caused by falling debris such as shattered ceilings and other objects. If possible, taking refuge under a thick blanket, mattress or any type of hard cover should also offer protection against the falling debris.
Within office buildings or skyscrapers
In office buildings and other skyscrapers, the same safety measures should be applied and in such instances, the safest places to take shelter should be the small rooms and stairwells located in the center of the building away from the windows. Even in such instances, one should try to reach the lowest possible floor and crouch down with the hands covering the head. Avoiding elevators should also be kept in mind at all costs.
How safe are mobile homes?
Mobile homes are not considered as ‘safe’ shelters during a tornado, even if tied down to the ground. Therefore, the advice would be to get out from the mobile home and reach a sturdy shelter as quickly as possible, or make use of an outdoor area as described later.
In the vehicle
When caught in a tornado while in a vehicle, one should take steps to reach a sturdy shelter if there is enough time. If not, one should park the vehicle on the side of the road and bend below the level of the vehicle windows while wearing the seat belt. The hands should be kept over the head in order to prevent window scatter or other debris from causing injuries. If available, one can make use of a blanket to cover oneself. If there is a lower ground level near the roadway and seems to be a safe place to lie down during the storm, one could make use of it because it might be safer than being at a higher level.
In open outdoors
When the person is in open outdoors and if there is no safe shelters close-by, one should lie on the ground with the face down and should keep the arms over the back of the head to cover it from any debris from hitting. However, it is safer to move away from trees and cars as much as possible.
Lastly, it should be remembered that none of these measures could bring absolute protection from a devastating tornado, although such measures can increase the chances of survival and reduce the risk of injury to a person caught in an area where a tornado warning has been issued.