Staying Safe During a Tornado (Part I)

Tornadoes are the most dangerous storms on the planet, so it’s crucial to know how to stay safe if you find yourself in their path.

Each year, around 1,300 tornadoes hit the U.S., damaging everything in their paths. They can form in any season, almost anywhere, and bring with them over 250 mph winds and funnels that can be over a mile wide. This is what you must know to stay safe and survive a tornado. 

When and Where They Occur

Most tornadoes in the U.S. happen east of the Rockies. They are particularly concentrated in the central and southern plains (“Tornado Alley”), as well as parts of Florida and the Gulf Coast. That said, tornadoes can happen practically anywhere. Therefore, it’s good to be ready for them wherever you live. 

While tornadoes can happen any time during the year, they will probably strike in the spring and summer. More often than not, they occur in the early evening and late afternoon when the pressure is quickly changing. 

Know the Warning Signs

Tornadoes can strike fast and out of nowhere, though there are typically warning signs of some type. Be sure you understand what different weather warnings mean:

Severe thunderstorm watch: Weather conditions suggest severe thunderstorms might form in your area. Severe thunderstorms are an early warning sign of a possible tornado.

Severe thunderstorm warning: A severe thunderstorm has been seen by spotters or on radar and is happening in your area. These storms can bring hail, rain, lightning, and winds of over 55 mph. These warnings last for about an hour or until the storm passes or upgrades to a more severe one.

Tornado Watch: Weather conditions suggest severe thunderstorms are possible and might develop into tornadoes in your area. If you see this warning, go over your emergency plans and begin preparing for the worst.

Tornado warning: It’s happening right now. A tornado has been seen in your area so implement your emergency plan and take cover ASAP.


How to Stay Safe If You’re Stuck in an Elevator (Part II)

Stay calm and dial 911.

Use your cellphone to call for assistance. If no one is answering the call button in the elevator, try using your cell. Dial 911 and speak to an operator about being stuck in the elevator. Speak clearly and calmly to the operator, giving the building name and address, and where the elevator is in the building.

Bang on the doors for help. If no one is answering the call button and you don’t have a signal on your cell, try banging on the elevator doors for help. Making noise in the elevator can alert someone on the other end to get help. Scream “help” loudly to get some attention.

Staying Calm and Safe in the Elevator

Stay seated inside the elevator. Don’t attempt to climb out of the elevator or pull the doors open. This will likely lead to harm and be hazardous. Instead, remain seated on the floor of the elevator. Standing up in the elevator can lead to feelings of vertigo and panic.

Do some deep breathing. To help you remain calm in the elevator, do some deep breathing. Find a comfortable seated position. Then breathe through your nose, hold it, and then exhale through your mouth. Do this several times until you feel relaxed and calm.

Communicate with others in the elevator. If you are stuck in the elevator with other folks, ask if there is anyone with a medical emergency or issue. Check-in with them to see how they are doing and count the total number of folks in the car. Be calm and pleasant. State that you have called for help and that it is coming. Most emergency personnel will respond within 25 minutes to an hour after being called to a stuck elevator.

Wait for help to arrive. Though you might feel anxious in a stuck elevator, try to sit tight and wait for help to arrive. Getting upset will only create tension in the elevator and make everyone, including yourself, nervous. Be assured that when help is called, people are typically rescued from a stuck elevator within 60 minutes.