Tornadoes may not strike on the massive scale of hurricanes, but the devastation can still be incredible. Recently cutting a swath through the Midwest, a series of 147 tornadoes was responsible for producing one-inch size hail, wind gusts of greater than 60 miles an hour and the deaths of six people. The town of Thurman, Iowa was struck by an EF2 category twister, leaving 75 percent of the town in shambles and the residents devastated.
It’s always unfortunate to lose any life, but the deaths in Tornado Alley would have been substantially higher if the residents did not take storm preparedness seriously. The people in living in these areas know that tornadoes can spring up suddenly with wildly, unpredictable paths. When you consider that tornadoes around the country killed more than 500 people in 2011 alone, now more than ever it is imperative for people all around the country to be prepared as best they can.
Have a Plan
Regardless of where you live, you should know what to do in the event of a tornado. You cannot always get out of the path, but you can find a safe place where you can hope to ride out the storm. Teach your children about surviving natural disasters, so they will know what to do if you are not with them. Practice the skills, so everyone will be more likely to remember them when the time comes.
Seeking Shelter in a Home
Consider the layout of your home to determine which room or closet you can enter that does not have any windows or exterior walls. It may be a bathroom or even a bedroom closet. The goal is to have as many walls between you and the home’s exterior as possible. Basements are ideal, particularly if you have an enclosed area in the basement where you can seek shelter. Get under a sturdy piece of furniture in that room to protect your head from flying debris.
Vacating a Car or Mobile Home
Cars and mobile homes will not provide any protection from the twisting winds and incredible power of a tornado. You are actually safer leaving these structures and looking for shelter elsewhere. If possible, go into a nearby building. If not, seek protection outdoors.
Look for a ditch, depression or ravine. You want to be below ground level, if possible, to avoid the flying debris that will occur during a tornado. Flash floods are common in tornadoes, so be prepared to move to another area. Don’t use overpasses as shelters because the structure can create a wind tunnel and leave you more vulnerable.
Build a Shelter
If you don’t have an appropriate space in your home to serve as a shelter, consider installing one. Shelters are the epitome of storm preparedness, as you can plan for flying objects like bricks and supply it with a small stash of food and water. Whether in the ground or in your home, you should perform drills for the entire family to practice getting to the shelter during an emergency.
Surviving natural disasters is as simple as accepting that they will happen and preparing for them. A little planning now can go a long way towards saving your life later.