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.

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

If you ever get stuck in an elevator, focus on staying calm and getting help.

Getting stranded in a stalled elevator can be frightening, particularly if you aren’t a fan of enclosed spaces. If you are stuck in an elevator, don’t fret. Focus instead on getting help and then remaining calm in the elevator so you’re safe and aren’t at risk of injury. By following the tips below, you will likely be out of the stranded elevator quickly.

Getting Help in the Elevator

Don’t panic! Most elevators are secure when they are stuck. They won’t free fall and are secure even when stopped. Also, the elevator is not airtight so you will have plenty of oxygen to remain in the elevator safely.

Besides, you shouldn’t worry about being stuck in the dark in the elevator. Most elevators will still have working lights even when stuck. There is likely emergency lighting that will come on in the elevator if the power goes out.

If for some reason there is smoke in the elevator, you might attempt to pry open the door to let in fresh air or to try to escape. But this can lead to being injured. So, unless the smoke is severe and overpowering, you must not tamper with the elevator doors in any way.

Press the “call” or “alarm” button in the elevator. Look for these two buttons on the panel in the elevator. Or, it might have a phone symbol or alarm bell on it. Press this button to let building maintenance know that you are stuck in the elevator. There should be someone on the other end who can answer your call and get assistance for you.

If there is no alarm button, there might be an emergency telephone in the elevator. Use the emergency telephone to call for help.



Staying Safe When You’re Stuck on the Side of the Road

At some point in your life, your car will likely break down on the side of the road even if it’s just a flat tire. Remember these tips to stay safe during this dreadful experience. 

Breaking down on the road can be stressful and scary but knowing how to remain safe is key. Check out these tips to get help and stay safe on the side of the road.

Try to get your car to the shoulder

Cars coming around a curve will be rattled if you are sitting in the blind spot of the curve. If the driver is startled, they could end up rear-ending you, bringing on more damage and perhaps injuring you too. It is rare that your vehicle will just stop working. You should have enough of a warning to move onto the shoulder.

Lock your doors

Stay inside the car to avoid being hit by traffic and lock the doors. You don’t want someone unexpectedly getting into your vehicle.

Call for help

Make a call for help to either a tow truck or roadside assistance if you have it on your auto insurance policy. If your phone is dead, hang something white outside of your window and secure it by rolling the window up. This will notify highway patrol officers that you need help.

Have on your emergency blinkers

This will let other vehicles see that your car isn’t moving and to watch out. Usually, drivers who can see you ahead of time will get into the other lane, but this is not always possible.

Be cautious of who stops to assist

Criminals target those who are on the side of the road as an easy target. If you have called for help, keep your windows up and your doors locked. Thank the person for stopping and tell them you’ve called for help. If they don’t leave and stay outside of your car waiting, call 911. Safety is number one when broken down.

If your phone is dead and they are the first person to stop, ask them to call the police, but you can do this all while staying in your car and only cracking your window a little. If they are truly wanting to help you, they won’t ask you to get out of your car.


How to Be Safe If You’re Caught in a Mass Shooting (Part VII)


After the Situation is Over

Once the area is secure, police will most likely organize an evacuation, while EMTs or other authorities will come in to see who might be injured or unable to leave on their own. Like mentioned earlier, the whole situation might have you stuck in a room somewhere, far away from whatever possessions you might have had with you at the time, and probably way away from loved ones or friends who might have been separated from you at the time.

Depending on the scale and size of the situation, you might not even be approached by the police. If you aren’t, and you have to follow up, go to an officer and make yourself available. Let them know you want to help, but you also left some personal items behind, and that now’s not the time, you’d like to follow up with someone when everything is settled.

Workplace or School

If it’s a workplace or school, your stuff will possibly be where you left it. If it’s a public place like a park or mall, pay attention to the news. You might hear there first when the place re-opened and where to go for more information. Don’t underestimate the value of social media here. Local governments, law enforcement, and malls and shopping centers all use it.

Being involved in mass shootings can be taxing on your mental health.

Finally, don’t overlook the emotional and mental stress that being in a violent situation can have on you, or on your loved ones, particularly if they’re children. Be sure to seek out the right medical help for any injuries you could have. If there’s counseling available to people affected, take advantage of it. Don’t just try to power through it. Talk to someone, even if it’s a professional.

Hopefully, you won’t ever need any of this advice. Though, violence is a fact of life. If you find yourself caught up in it, paying attention to your surroundings and calm nerves can go a long way to keeping you safe.


How to Be Safe If You’re Caught in a Mass Shooting (Part VI)

Engaging the shooter during a mass shooting needs to be a last resort even if you’re armed yourself.

What If I’m Armed?

We don’t want to get into the argument over whether more or fewer armed people contribute to or detract from a bad situation. However, experts state that if you’re armed, do the same as they suggest for anyone else. Engaging an assailant must be a last resort unless you’re trained to deal with these sorts of situations.

Even then, your first responsibility should be to get the public out of harm’s way before dealing with the threat at hand. Your best bet would be the secure the safety of yourself and as many other folks as you can.

Some folks have their own weapons but you can’t ignore the advantages of tactical knowledge, strategy, training, and experience. Escape must be the main goal for everyone who does not have the traits listed above.

When the police arrive, be sure your hands are clearly visible and offer them as much information as you can. If you have a concealed carry permit, be aware that the police won’t have any idea who the bad guy is, so be prepared to drop your weapon or be mistaken for the gunman. Let them know immediately that you have a permit to carry and let them frisk you if necessary.

Experts say that if you do take action, you must remember that when law enforcement or the police arrive on the scene, their main concern is to secure the area and either incapacitate or arrest the assailant(s). They’ll be looking for anyone who’s armed, and based on the seriousness of the situation, they might or might not give you the benefit of the doubt. Even a moment’s hesitation dropping your own weapon could be a very bad day for you.



How to Be Safe If You’re Caught in a Mass Shooting (Part V)

You definitely need to call 911 but you should make sure you’re in a safe spot to do so first.

Help Others When Possible

You might think that contacting the authorities is the first thing you must attempt to do. It’s not. As mentioned, the first thing you must do is secure your safety and then you call the police. You don’t want to put attention to yourself by dialing 911 if you’re hiding and waiting for the danger to be gone.

Also, you won’t be able to offer any helpful information if you’re running from danger and panicking at the same time. If your safe spot has an exit, like a window to the outdoors, use it. Be sure that it’s safe for you to talk, put your phone on silent, dial 911, and speak as softly as possible.

Helping Others

The same applies to helping others. While you should definitely help other folks to safety when you can, once you’re in a safe area, nobody should leave. You must be highly wary of anyone trying to get access to your safe area before the danger is over.

Shooters, for instance, often want to rack up a high body count as quickly as possible. Opening the door to your safe space may give them a chance they wouldn’t have otherwise.

When police do come, stay where it’s safe and remain quiet. Remember that their aim is to offer security and to make an unsafe situation safe again not just for you, who might be stuck inside, but for others, such as EMTs and firefighters who are there to attend to people who may be injured or need evacuation. If you see or hear the police, don’t go running out from your safe spot until ordered to do so. Just because they’re there doesn’t mean the area is safe.


How to Be Safe If You’re Caught in a Mass Shooting (Part IV)

There’s safety in numbers. If you’re truly stuck in a horrible situation, your best bet is to defend your safe space if possible. Coordinate your defense and try to keep everyone alert and calm. Whatever you do, don’t come out from your safe space until the danger is over and safety comes to find you, not the other way around.

Fight for Your Life

Also, if getting away from danger or getting to a safe space aren’t options for you, you might have to fight for your life. It must be an absolute last resort. Remember, violence like stabbings or shootings are terrifying, full of panic, frightened people, and disorganized. The threat might not be clear. You might have no way to fight back since you have no idea who or what you’re up against. Worst of all, there’s no way for you to correctly gauge the threat unless you’ve been trained to do so.

If you’re in a safe space that’s no longer safe or you have some protection in numbers, try to coordinate with others to safeguard the group. You hear about this all the time when passengers on a plane come together to strap down a crazy passenger.

Lamps are great for adding light to a dark room but they can also be great weapons if you need to fight back in a mass shooting.

If you and others can do some sort of coordinated attack, that can help. Things like lamps and chairs make good weapons. Fight for your life!

Seize any opportunity

If the attacker’s gun needs to be reloaded or jams, use this moment to either run away or at him.

In short, your safety and the safety of others is vital. If you can secure it without being directly involved, do so. If that safety isn’t an option or a chance to defuse the situation presents itself and you’re in the mindset and position to take it, do so as a last resort.


How to Be Safe If You’re Caught in a Mass Shooting (Part III)

If you can’t run the next best thing is to hide.

If something does break off and you’ve been aware of what’s going on around you, you’ll be able to make a run to the nearest exit, find something to hide behind or some other way to get yourself out of harm’s way. When you sit down in a movie theater or get on a plane, you’re asked to make note of the nearest exit and how to get there if there’s an emergency. You should note exits any time you enter any store or

Run, Hide, Fight

If you’re in a dangerous situation, particularly one where the real threat might not be clear and there are panic and fear around you, the golden rule to remember and follow is run, hide, then fight. Your objectives must be to get away from the danger first. If that’s not feasible, it must be to get yourself to a spot where you’ll be safe until the danger is over.


If you have a clear exit, this is the ideal choice. Don’t worry about any of your personal belongings, just drop it and run. Try to get other folks to leave with you if they will do so ASAP. If you can see a shooter, he can see you, so try to crouch and run as rapidly as you can so that you aren’t an easy target. Keep running until you get to a place of safety. Keep running as long as you can.


If there’s no way out, hiding is the next option, which means getting behind a car, tree or another big solid object that gets you both out of sight and protected. Most of these kinds of incidents only last for a couple of minutes. If possible, do what US elementary school students are trained to do and hide in a locked room – a dark, quiet and secure one.

How to Be Safe If You’re Caught in a Mass Shooting (Part II)

The best thing to do in a mass shooting situation is to overcome your feelings of panic, run away, and find help.

For that reason, it’s conceivable that if you’re ever in a life-or-death situation, you might just do what your natural instincts press you to do: get away as fast as possible and seek protection in authority figures trained to handle the situation. Luckily, experts state that’s exactly what you should do.

Though instincts aren’t always correct and the best way to make the call in an emergency is to have the know-how ahead of time necessary to act without thinking. It’s a tall order to overcome the natural state of fear and panic that comes with violence. Though, being able to make a quick decision to trust your instincts or to change course might be what saves your life.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Your safety begins with being keenly aware of your surroundings. You may think this goes without saying, but considering folks fall down over themselves looking at their phones or texting while they walk, it’s surprising how few folks truly pay attention to what’s going on around them.

We’re not saying you have to be paranoid, just observant. Take a look around, see how many folks are close to you, and what they’re doing. Take a mental note of anything that looks out of place. Obviously if you see something that must be reported to authorities, you should, but for lots of us, this is a matter of checking out how crowded an area is before we enter, taking a peek around at the folks inside and how they react when we walk in and paying attention if there’s a situation developing.

If you do see a disturbance, such as a hostile customer shouting at a cashier, an arguing couple, or police activity, look around for exits to get to if things get out of control.