Tornados can happen any time of year, and anywhere in the country. Don’t assume you’re safe just because you don’t live in Tornado Alley. Our warning systems are much better today than they ever have been, but tornadoes can still come along unexpectedly. When they do, it is too late to run or drive away. However, there are ways to prepare for and possibly survive a tornado.
Know the Warning Signs
Warning signs that a tornado is eminent include:
- A greenish color to the sky or dark clouds with a green tint
- Sudden stillness and quiet during a thunderstorm or right after a thunderstorm
- Large, dark, low cloud
- Lowering cloud base
- Fast moving clouds
- Large hail
- Whirling debris on the ground or below the clouds
- Rotation in the clouds
- Sudden, intense shifts in wind direction
- Falling debris
- Funnel cloud
- Roaring noise, like a freight train
A Mobile Home is a Deathtrap
If you are in a mobile home when a tornado is approaching get out. Yes, being outside during a tornado is bad, but being inside a mobile home is even worse. If you can, get to a building with a basement, or at least a solid structure. If there is no shelter, try to find a ditch or culvert and lie flat, covering your head with your hands.
You Can’t Outrun a Tornado in Your Car
Don’t even try it. If you see a tornado in the distance you may be able to get out of the way by moving at a right angle to the tornado’s direction of travel, but tornadoes can change direction quickly.
The best thing to do is pull off the road and stop as quickly as you can. Get out of the vehicle and to shelter or into a ditch that is lower than the road, if you can do so safely. If flying debris is already so bad that you can’t get out of the car, put your seatbelt on and duck down so your head is below the windows.
Do not park under a bridge or overpass.
Basements are Best
If you’re in a house or building with a basement, get to the basement right away. If there is no basement, you want to be on the lowest floor possible, away from windows, and preferably in a small room with all interior walls. The bathroom is not always the safest place.
After the Tornado Passes
Once the tornado passes, there are many hazards. Debris, rolling buildings falling objects, downed power lines, gas leaks, and myriad other dangers lurk in the wake of a tornado.
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