Tornadoes can appear without much warning and when they do they often leave a trail of death and destruction. Because they are so violent and unpredictable, they deserve our respect and attention.
Although some areas of the country are more prone to tornadoes it is important to realize tornadoes have been reported in all 50 states. Although you may live in a low-risk area, emergency preparedness officials want you to remember this, a tornado can develop in a matter of minutes or you may have several days of advance warning of tornado threats from developing weather patterns. Planning ahead for tornado producing storms is important.
Tornadoes have the ability to produce wind speeds of up to 300 mph or more and they do not discriminate, they will flatten anything and everything in their path. Sadly, too many lives have been lost from these violent vortexes.
Experts suggest you prepare two separate tornado emergency plans. A plan for staying in your home and a plan in case you must leave your home. Now is the time to determine if your home has a safe option for riding out a tornado producing storm. Moreover, it is also the time to figure out where you would go if your home were not a safe option.
Many communities now have tornado sirens but some only sound if there is the potential for serious threats while other sound off only when a tornado is spotted. Become familiar with any warning signals or sirens in your area and what they mean.
History has proven tornados and strong wind producing storms can demolish a mobile home in a millisecond. If you live in a mobile home experts recommend you evacuate when dangerous weather approaches and to not return until it is all clear.
If your home has a basement or storm shelters take refuge in it. You should keep a flashlight, bottled water and a battery operated weather radio along with something to cover you head in this area. If you do not have access to a basement seek out shelter on the lowest level of your home in an interior room such as bathroom, closet or utility room and avoid any room with a window.
Plan ahead and know where your closest emergency shelters such as Red Cross set up during severe weather in case you need to evacuate your home. Shelters will have food, water and other necessities available. Only if it is safe and you have time, you can bring a few things from home such as important papers, a change of clothes and personal items. It is wise to keep all-important papers such as insurance policies in a zip bag stored in a small document storage box with a handles making it quick and easy to grab on the run.
Storms can scatter families so be sure every member of your household and your extended family knows about your emergency evacuation plans. Plus pick a designated meeting spot in case you are separated during a storm. In addition, it is a good idea to have a back up meeting spot just in case a tornado hits the original meeting location.
A tornado can be a traumatic life-changing event however by planning ahead, knowing what to do and when, along with listening to directions from local authorities may increase your odds of survival if a violent tornado producing storm hits your area.
Despite evolving weather forecasting models and improved warning systems we still can not prevent tornadoes, we can only try prepare for them. There is no better time than now to start thinking about what you should to do to give you and your family safe the best chance of survival during a dangerous tornado-producing storm.
What would you do to stay safe during a tornado? Tell us in the comment section.
Lisa Metheny is a published award-winning outdoor writer, photographer, speaker and outdoor skills instructor. Lisa holds several instructor certifications and conducts a number of women-focused outdoor seminars on topics such as archery and hunting throughout the year. She regularly teaches hunters education and archery classes and has become an advocate for promoting traditional outdoor recreation to families across the United States. Lisa is also an avid and accomplished hunter with many big game species to her credit. She is a member of POMA and former Board of Directors member as well as a member of the NRA, RMEF, MDF and DU.
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