Even if you live outside “Tornado Alley,” the area of the country that runs north from Texas through eastern Nebraska and northeast to Indiana, you are still vulnerable to tornadoes. Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas may see more of these unpredictable and dangerous storms than other states, but the rest of the country also gets its share of twisters.
When a tornado threatens
While no home can ever be made “tornado-proof,” homeowners prepare for tornadoes ahead of time can improve the odds of their home surviving high winds by taking these precautions. Take these additional steps to protect yourself and your family:
- Have a designated shelter (a local community shelter, perhaps, or your own underground storm cellar or in-residence “safe” room). When a tornado approaches, go there immediately. If your home has no storm cellar or in-residence “safe” room and you have no time to get to a community shelter, head to the center most part of your basement or home — away from windows and preferably under something sturdy like a workbench or staircase. The more walls between you and the outside, the better.
- Become familiar with your community’s severe weather warning system and make certain every adult and teenager in your family knows what to do when a tornado watch or warning sounds. Learn about your workplace’s disaster safety plans and similar measures at your children’s schools or day care centers.
- Create a family plan in case you are able to move to a community shelter and identify escape routes from your home and neighborhood and designate an emergency meeting place for your family to reunite if you become separated. Also establish a contact point to communicate with concerned relatives.
- Put together an emergency kit that includes a three-day supply of drinking water and food you don’t have to refrigerate or cook; first aid supplies; a portable NOAA weather radio; a wrench and other basic tools; a flashlight; work gloves; emergency cooking equipment; portable lanterns; fresh batteries for each piece of equipment; clothing; blankets; baby items; prescription medications; extra car and house keys; extra eyeglasses; credit cards and cash; important documents, including insurance policies.
- Move anything in your yard that can become flying debris inside your house or garage before a storm strikes. Do this only if authorities have announced a tornado watch, however. If authorities have announced a tornado warning, leave it all alone.
- Don’t open your windows. You won’t save the house, as once thought, and you may actually make things worse by giving wind and rain a chance to get inside.
Finally, review your homeowners insurance policy periodically with your MJM Insurance® of Fenton agent to make sure you have sufficient coverage to rebuild your life and home after a tornado. Report any property damage to your insurance agent or company representative immediately after a natural disaster and make temporary repairs to prevent further damage.
For information about filing an insurance claim after a natural disaster, contact MJM Insurance® of Fenton.
Here in the USA, tornadoes have occurred in every month, so any time is a good time to review tornado safety procedures – for home, for school, for work, in the car, and while out and about. And if you are considering a storm shelter, take a look at Tornado Project Online to learn more about shelters.
Each year about a thousand tornadoes touch down in the US. Only a small percentage actually strike occupied buildings, but every year a number of people are killed or injured. The chances that a tornado will strike a building that you are in are very small, however, and you can greatly reduce the chance of injury by doing a few simple things.
One of the most important things Homeowners Prepare for Tornadoes do to prevent being injured in a tornado is to be ALERT to the onset of severe weather. Most deaths and injuries happen to people who are unaware and uninformed. Young children or the mentally challenged may not recognize a dangerous situation. The ill, elderly, or invalid may not be able to reach shelter in time. Those who ignore the weather because of indifference or overconfidence may not perceive the danger. Stay aware, and you will stay alive!
If you don’t regularly watch or listen to the weather report, but strange clouds start moving in and the weather begins to look stormy, turn to your local radio/television station or visit www.weather.com to get the weather forecast.
If a tornado “watch” is issued for your area, it means that a tornado is “possible.”
If a tornado “warning” is issued, it means that a tornado has actually been spotted, or is strongly indicated on radar, and it is time to go to a safe shelter immediately.
Be alert to what is happening outside as well. Here are some of the things that people describe when they tell about a tornado experience:
- A green-greenish black color to the sky.
- If there is a watch or warning posted, then the fall of hail should be considered as a real danger sign.
- A strange quiet that occurs within or shortly after the thunderstorm.
- Clouds moving by very fast, especially in a rotating pattern or converging toward one area of the sky.
- The sound of a tornado has been compared to the sounds of railroad trains.
- An obvious “funnel-shaped” cloud that is rotating, or debris such as branches or leaves being pulled upwards.
If you see a tornado and it is not moving to the right or to the left relative to trees or power poles in the distance, it may be moving towards you! Remember that although tornadoes usually move from southwest to northeast, they also move towards the east, the southeast, the north, and even northwest.
Encourage your family members to plan for their own safety in many different locations. It is important to make decisions about the safest places well BEFORE you ever have to go to them.
Is it likely that a tornado will strike your home or school? No. But being ready for the possibility will keep you safer!
Deaths and injuries from tornadoes have dropped dramatically in the past 50 years. Casualties numbers are holding steady as scientists learn more about tornadoes and develop the technologies that detect them sooner. Forecasters must continue to improve techniques because the population is increasing. The National Weather Service, Storm Prediction Center, and television and radio weather people have taken full advantage of the advancements in tornado prediction to improve warnings.
In addition, many people generously donate their time and expertise to help protect their neighbors and communities in another way — by tornado and severe storm “spotting.” “Spotters” combine an interest in the weather, a willingness to serve and often, ham radio experience to make tornado prone areas safer for all. Spotting can provide a focus to a person’s interest in the weather, and ham radio helps you meet other like-minded people. It is not often that something that starts out as a hobby can potentially do so much good. If you are interested in Skywarn training and becoming a spotter, check out the National Skywarn page.