Whether or not you live in an area where tornadoes are common, it’s important to have an emergency plan. Tornadoes can touch down anywhere, not just in the Midwest. Often, it’s with little to no warning, too.
When the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning, however, you’ll need to know how to react.
Here are some important safety tips everyone should know.
Ideally, you should have a weather radio so you can keep up with NWS announcements. However, waiting for a warning to be issued isn’t the only way to know a tornado touching down is imminent.
Things to look out for include an ominous dark (especially green) sky, hail, and large thunderclouds. Tornadoes can often come from squall lines of severe thunderstorms.
Also, if you hear what sounds like the roar of an approaching train, you should immediately take shelter.
If you’re already safe inside your home, it’s important that you keep low and stay away from windows. If you have a basement or storm cellar, that’s definitely where you should go. If not, try to go to the centermost room in the house. Crouching in a tub or shower can also help provide protection.
Make sure you’re protected from flying debris by keeping your head down and covered. Blankets and pillows can be used to help shield yourself.
Though contrary to what some may say, it’s unwise to open your windows when there’s an approaching tornado. It not only wastes time, it could also potentially increase how much damage is done.
If you’re caught outside, your number one objective should be to get to the nearest building. If you can’t make it to a building for shelter, look for low ground like a dry ditch. Do not shelter under a bridge or overpass, as these are incredibly unsafe places to be.
If you’re stuck in a vehicle, make sure your seatbelt is buckled and you keep your head below window level.
Once you’ve found adequate shelter, it’s important to stay calm and collected. If you have a weather radio, you can listen for updates. Otherwise, you should wait for the storm to clear.