In case you never read the news, tornado season is most definitely upon us. News from Indiana and surrounding areas last week reported massive damage from storms containing, high winds, hail, heavy rain, and of course, tornadoes. Being prepared for storm season is a lot like being prepared for the zombie apocalypse. We joke about the zombie threat and some of us take it more seriously than others. However, zombie prepping is nothing more than a tongue-in-cheek way to look at a subject that is otherwise very serious, disaster preparation.
What to do Before a Tornado
First and foremost, get a kit. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends at least 72 hours worth of supplies for a major disaster. In case you don’t remember Hurricane Katrina, let me enlighten you. The government simply does not have the logistical resources to come and rescue you and your family during a widespread disaster. FEMA, the Red Cross, and the National Guard are full of brave, hard working individuals, but they can’t help everyone. There simply aren’t enough helicopters, heavy machinery, and boats to rescue an entire regional population. When SHTF, count on being on your own. In addition, I’d rather be eating my own food that I stored ahead of time, than wait in some government-run food line. FEMA provides a detailed list of essentials for your 72-hour kit.
Before the tornado, listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television newscasts for the latest information. Always be looking out for approaching storms, and look for the following danger signs:
- Dark, often greenish sky
- Large hail
- A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
- Loud roar, similar to a freight train
A Dallas, TX area emergency manager said that most major cities have an emergency phone service in which you can register your phone number. During a disaster, you will get an automated phone call warning you of danger in your area. This is a good idea for cases in which tornadoes come in the middle of the night. Remember, advanced warning is the most important thing when trying to survive a tornado.
Your Tornado Season Kit
What to do During a Tornado
If you are underneath a tornado, you probably shouldn’t be reading this—you should be taking shelter immediately! If you are in a public building, go to a predesignated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level such as a closet or interior hallway. Make sure it is away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck. Do not open windows.
If you are in a vehicle, trailer or mobile home then you are in trouble. Get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little or no protection from tornadoes.
If you find yourself outside with no shelter, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Be aware of the potential for flooding. Do not get under an overpass or bridge, the people in that famous video got lucky. You are far safer in a low, flat location. Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter. Watch out for debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.
What to do After a Tornado
Recovering from a disaster is usually a gradual process. Safety is a primary issue, as are mental and physical well-being. If assistance is available, knowing how to access it makes the process faster and less stressful. If you only have 72 hours worth of supplies, then staying in a destroyed location is probably not a good idea. Take what supplies you can and move to a relatives’ house, or if you can afford it, a hotel in a surrounding area.