Tornadoes can happen anywhere at any time and cause mass devastation, so the time to come up with an emergency plan is now. Here are some tips to help you prepare in case one occurs close to your home.
- Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts. If your community has sirens, become familiar when their warning tone. Identify a safe shelter in the event of high winds, such as a safe room built using FEMA criteria or a storm shelter built to ICC 500 standards. The next best protection is a small, interior, windowless room on the lowest level of a sturdy building.
- If a tornado warning occurs in your area, find safe shelter right away.
- If you can safely get to a sturdy building, do so immediately.
- Go to a safe room, basement, or storm cellar. If you are in a building with no basement, then get to a small interior room on the lowest level.
- Stay away from windows, doors, and outside walls.
- Do not get under an overpass or bridge – you are safer in a low, flat location.
- Watch out for flying debris that can cause injury or death. Use your arms to protect your head and neck.
- If you are under a tornado watch:
- Immediately go to a safe location.
- Take additional cover by shielding your head or neck with your arms and putting materials such as furniture and blankets around you.
- Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, EAS, or your local alerting systems for emergency information and instructions.
- If you are away from your home, do NOT try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle. If can’t get to a building, cover your head and neck with your arms.
After the tornado has passed, keep listening to NOAA Weather Radio, EAS, and your local authorities for updated information. Stay clear of fallen power lines and broken utility lines. If you find yourself trapped, cover your mouth with a cloth or mask to avoid breathing dust. Try to send a text, bang on a pipe or wall, or use a whistle instead of shouting. Save your phone calls for emergencies. Phone systems are often down or busy after a disaster – use texting or social media to communicate with your friends and family. Also remember: if you need to do some clean up to wear thick-soled shoes, long pants, and work gloves to help protect yourself.