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WHAT TO DO IN A TORNADO EMERGENCY

TORNADO EMERGENCIES

Tornado season lasts from March to August, but can occur year-round. More than 80% of tornadoes occur between noon and midnight and ¼ occur from 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

TORNADO MYTHS AND FACTS:

  1. Myth: Areas near lakes, rivers and mountains are safe from tornadoes.

      Fact: No place is safe from tornadoes.

  1. Myth: The low pressure with a tornado causes buildings to explode as the tornado passes overhead.

Fact: Violent winds and debris slamming into buildings cause most structural damage.

  1. Myth: Windows should be opened before a tornado approaches to equalize pressure and minimize damage.

Fact: Windows should be left closed to minimize damage from flying debris and to keep the high wind out of the structure.

  1. Myth: If you are driving and see a tornado, you should drive at a right angle to the storm.

Fact: The best thing to do is seek the best available shelter.  Many people are injured or killed by remaining in their vehicles.

  1. Myth: People caught in the open should seek shelter under highway overpasses.

Fact: Do not seek shelter under highway overpasses or under bridges.  If possible, take shelter in a sturdy, reinforced building.

BEFORE:

  • Conduct tornado drills each tornado season.  Designate an area in the home as a shelter and practice having everyone in the family go there in response to a tornado.
  • Know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning.  A tornado watch is issued when tornadoes are possible.  A tornado warning is issued when a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.
  • Mobile homes are particularly vulnerable especially if steps have not been taken to tie down the unit.  When a tornado warning has been issued, take shelter in a place with a strong foundation.  If shelter is not available, lie in a ditch or low-lying area a safe distance from the unit.
  • Know the tornado danger signs.  An approaching cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible.  Before a tornado hits the wind may dies down and the air may become very still.  Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm.

DURING:

If at home:

·         Go at once to a windowless, interior room, storm cellar, basement or lowest level building. Keep all windows and doors closed. Damage often occurs when wind gets inside the home.

·         If there is no basement, go to an inner hallway or a smaller inner room without windows such as a bathroom or closet.

·         Get away from all windows.

·         Go to the center of the room.

·         Get under a piece of sturdy furniture like a workbench, heavy table or desk.

·         Use arms to protect head and neck.

·         If in a mobile home, get out and find shelter elsewhere.

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If at work or school:

  • Go to the basement or an inside hallway at the lowest level.
  • Avoid places with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums, cafeterias, large hallways and shopping malls.
  • Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench, heavy table or desk.
  • Use arms to protect head and neck.

If outdoors:

  • If possible, get inside a building.
  • If shelter is not available, lie in a ditch or low-lying area.
  • Use arms to protect head and neck.

 If in a vehicle:

  • Never try to out-drive a tornado in a vehicle.  Tornadoes can change direction quickly, lift up a vehicle and toss it through the air.
  • Get out of the vehicle immediately and take shelter in a nearby building.
  • If there is no time to get indoors, lie in a ditch or low-lying area away from the vehicle.  Be aware of the potential for flooding.

AFTER:

·         Help the injured or trapped persons, being careful not to become trapped yourself.

·         Give first aid when appropriate.

·         Don’t try to move the seriously injured unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. 

·         Call for help.

·         Turn on radio or television to get the latest emergency information.

·         Stay out of damaged buildings.  Return home only when authorities say it is safe.

·         Use the telephone only for emergency calls.

·         Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids.  Immediately leave the building if you smell gas or chemical fumes.

·         Avoid fallen power lines or broken utility lines & report those you see.

·         Take pictures of the damage-both to the house and its contents-for insurance purposes.

·         Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance-infants, the elderly and people with disabilities.

·         Inspect the utilities in a damaged home.  Check for gas leaks-if you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and leave the building.  Turn off the gas at the outside main valve.  If you can, call the gas company from a neighbor’s home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, a professional must turn it back on.  Look for electrical system damage-if you see sparks, broken or frayed wires, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker.  If you have to step up to get to the fuse box, call an electrician for advice.  Check for sewage and water line damage-if you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid flushing toilets and call a plumber.  If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid water from the tap.  You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.

NOTE: After any tornado emergency, please check in on your neighbors to see if they need any assistance, especially the elderly and/or disabled