Staying Safe During a Tornado (Part III)

These tips help keep you safe if you find yourself in the path of a dangerous tornado.

If you’re in Your Car or Truck

Don’t attempt to outrun a tornado. It’s quicker than you and doesn’t have to stick to roads. Instead, safely go to the closest sturdy-looking building. Once there, park your vehicle outside of any traffic lanes and go inside. If you’re caught inside your vehicle: park, be sure your seat belt is on, put your head down under the windows, and cover your head and neck with a blanket, coat, seat cushion, or your hands. 

The vehicle’s airbags and frame will provide some protection. Don’t drive to an overpass or bridge. You’re safer in a flat, open, low location.

If you’re Outside

If reaching shelter in time is not feasible, you have some options. If you can get close to a building, do so and squat next to a strong wall. If you’re completely out in the open, get away from cars, trees, and other possibly deadly debris. Lie face down flat in a ditch or low-lying space. Cover your neck and head.

After the Tornado

If you’re trapped by debris, FEMA suggests you don’t kick up dust, try to move, or push your way out. You might get injured and may make things worse for yourself. Instead, tap on a wall, pipe, or other material to make noise. Yell or whistle if you can so rescuers can find you.

When the storm has passed, check in with your loved ones to be sure nobody is harmed. Keep them together in the aftermath. Turn on your radio and for instructions from local officials and emergency personnel. Use great caution as you start to clean up. 

Stay away from damaged buildings, debris, and fallen power lines. Look out for broken glass and other sharp objects on the ground. Make sure to have on protective clothing while you handle debris and don’t attempt to lift heavy debris by yourself. If your power is gone out, use lamps and flashlights, not lighters, matches, or candles. 

Staying Safe During a Tornado (Part II)

One sign of a tornado is hail.

If you’re not close to your phone or in an area with bad coverage, there are other tornado signs. Listen and look for:

  • Dark thunderstorm clouds
  • Heavy rain or large hail 
  • Whirling debris or dust 
  • A thunderous rumble that sounds like a train 

Knowing these warning signs can save you plenty of time. Time is of the essence in emergency situations.

When the Tornado Strikes

Once a warning has been issued or you can see the storm coming yourself, it’s time to find shelter ASAP. Don’t wait. Bear in mind, wherever you end up, make sure to safeguard your head. Most tornado injuries entail flying debris. Also, never leave a building trying to escape a tornado. You can’t outrun it.

If You’re at Home

Go inside and move to a windowless, small interior room. If you have a basement or cellar, take cover in there. Stay away from doors, corners, windows, and outside walls. The point is to put as many walls between you and the outside as you an. 

Once you’re in a safe room, go beneath a sturdy desk or table, covering your head and neck with a heavy coat, your arms, a thick blanket, or pillows to safeguard from debris. If you live in a mobile or manufactured home, leave quickly and head to the nearest sturdy building. Mobile homes have very little to no protection. Keep pets in a carrier or crate.

If You’re at Work or School

Head to a pre-designated safe area, such as a storm cellar, a safe room, or a window-free interior room. If you live in a high-rise building, go to a small interior room on the lowest floor. If possible, avoid any buildings with long-spanning roof areas, such as arenas, gymnasiums, or shopping malls. These buildings have a great chance of collapsing from the pressure or a tornado.