Obviously, tornados can be dangerous, and even deadly. With wind speeds ranging from 65- 318 miles per hour, there are few things that will be safe in the path of a tornado. Although safety is never guaranteed, we have a few tips you can use to maximize your safety during a tornado—we’ll dive into them below!
1. Be Aware of the Warning Signs of a Tornado
It’s important that you understand the telltale signs of a tornado before it hits so that you can get to shelter. Before a twister hits, the air usually becomes very still and the sky becomes clear and devoid of clouds.
At night, you can expect to see bright blue or green lightning flashes near the ground. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for hail, heavy rain, roaring winds, and visible whirling winds with a cloud base – all common signs of a tornado’s arrival.
2. Prepare for Tornado Touchdown
Before the tornado touches down, gather all food and emergency supplies like canned goods, flashlights, batteries and first aid kits. You will want to prepare a lot of sturdy mattresses, sleeping bags and pillows that can cover you safely and cushion you from flying debris and hail.
3. At Home, in School, or in the Office
No matter if you’re at home, school or at work, when a tornado hits, your best bet is to duck beneath a heavy table, or go to the basement or the lowest floor of the building. If you can’t get that far, the interior stairwell of a building is a great place to take shelter as well.
If you’re at home, cover yourself with a sleeping bag or mattress, but if a mattress is not available, crouch low or lie face-down on the floor and protect your head with your hands.
4. On the Road
If you’re stuck driving when a tornado nears, try to drive out of the tornado’s path at right angles if it’s still at a distance. Although it might sound intuitive, it’s important not to take cover under bridges as they offer little to no protection from debris.
If you can, get to the nearest building to take shelter; if that’s not possible try to find a lower level or depression near the road, lie face down in that area and cover your head with your hands. If you’re stuck in your car or rendered immobile by strong winds or flying debris, secure your seat belt, duck low (below the level of the windows) and cover your head with your hands or a cushion.
Should tornadoes strike your area without warning or if you find yourself alone and in need of immediate help, seek emergency assistance from the following institutions:
- American Red Cross (Disaster Assistance Hotline) – 866-505-4801
- American Red Cross Main Hotline – 800-RED-CROSS
- United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) – 202-548-4002
5. After the Tornado
Tornados are obviously scary, and the aftermath can be even scarier. We recommend sticking together with whomever you’re with and wait for emergency responders. It’s important that you stay out of severely damaged houses or buildings as they could collapse anytime. You’ll also want to stay away from live wires and puddles as well.
Hopefully the above tornado safety tips have been helpful, but if you’re looking for more saftey information, consider our Workplace Safety Resource Center.