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Understanding Tornadoes And How To Prepare For Them

Understanding Tornadoes and how to prepare for them is key to keep your family safe. Tornadoes are narrow, rotating columns of air that go from the base of a thunderstorm all the way to the ground. You cannot see a tornado unless it forms a funnel made up of water droplets, dust, and other debris. Tornadoes are the most violent and damaging of all storms.

Tornado touching down in the Midwest
Tornadoes and How To Prepare For Them

Tornadoes happen all over the world. More than 1,200 tornadoes strike the U.S. every year. Although tornadoes can happen anywhere in the U.S., the majority take place in an area called Tornado Alley. This area goes from northern Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, into South Dakota. The other Midwest States like Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, and Indiana are also included.

Tornado season runs from March to August depending on the area. Tornadoes are classified using the Fujita scale and range from F0 to F5 which is the most severe. Tornadoes can also happen at any time of the day or night but most occur between 4-9 p.m.

Having a tornado plan and knowing what to do ahead of time is the best way to keep your family safe. Here are important tips that can save your life:

  1. Have a shelter or safe room. Building an underground storm shelter is the best option to protect your family. If you do not have one, find the lowest, most central and smallest space in your home. This could be in a basement, bathroom or central hallway. Stay away from windows and outside walls.
  2. Have a tornado kit with a battery-powered radio or tv, flashlight, batteries, sturdy shoes, first-aid kit, identification, cash, food, water, pet carriers, leashes, blankets, and cell phone charger.
  3. Keep tuned in to your local weather station. Often there are warnings of severe weather a few days before tornadoes form. Some signs of tornadoes are a dark, greenish sky, swirling winds, cloud rotation and loud roars that sound like a train.
  4. If a tornado warning is issued near you, get your tornado kit, bedding and go to your shelter room. Ensure everyone is wearing sturdy shoes. Do not leave shelter room until tornado danger has passed. Cover yourself with blankets, pillows or mattresses to protect your head and neck from debris.
  5. Have a pre-set rendezvous spot so that all family members can meet in that spot after the tornado has passed. Stay out of damaged buildings if possible. If you smell gas or chemicals, leave the area immediately.
  6. Try and stay calm to make the best decisions to keep your family safe.

Understanding tornadoes and how to prepare for them is your best chance to surviving these violent and deadly storms. Do not stay in your car or motor home as they are not safe. Do not try and outrun a tornado as the direction of the tornado can change at any time. Do not take shelter under a bridge. Do not go outside to watch the storm. Do not open any windows.

By following these tips, you and your family will have the best chance at staying safe during tornado season.