tornado preparedness

Tornado Preparedness
How to prepare for Tornadoes

Improve your survival chances if confronted by a tornado!
Learn the warning signs!
  • Look and looming overhead you may see dark, green skies
    and low clouds.
  • Listen and you may hear a loud roar, and finally
  • Notice and take action if large hail falling catches your

These are the signs. Twisters are a hundred times worse than
anything Hollywood could ever portray, or so say the survivors.
Ripping to shreds and a thousand pieces everything you've
worked hard to collect in your lifetime, the aftermath of a
twister leaves you with little but hope for survival of a loved
one or family pet. Unless of course you're a prepper and have a
few plans of action.

When it's a tornado watch you still have time, when it's a
tornado warning, you've got to get to your safe place, so says
ABC News on how to survive a tornado:

If you're moving to a tornado prone area of the country, or
visiting a state in tornado alley, take heed of this information:

  1. Never seek shelter under an overpass. Hollywood is
    dead wrong on this one! During a tornado, the underpass
    you drive through will be a wind tunnel of destruction.
    Unfortunately, this is an area of significant reported deaths
    that could have been avoided.
  2. Never try to out run the tornado! A tornado can travel
    upwards of 70 mph. Instead, look for a fixed object in the
    horizon to see if the tornado is travelling left of right. Your
    aim will be the opposite direction. If it's not moving left or
    right, then it's headed your way. Make a decision (right or
    left) or if you're stuck in traffic, pull over to the side if you
    can and abandon your vehicle then make your decision to
    head right or left.
  3. Stuck in your car? Buckle up and cover your head and body
    from the glass which may shard.
  4. Seek whatever shelter you can find.
  • An overturned couch, a mattress or cushions can
    provide a layer of protection.
  • People have survived in ditches, by covering their
    heads and lying flat.

Nothing can guarantee absolute safety during a tornado, but
you can prepare! First lets get to the reality of tornadoes with
some sobering facts...

  • Danger of tornadoes lurk in all 50 states! Tornadoes are
    most prevalent in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, but
    even if you don't live in tornado alley, a tornado has visited
    your state!  Tornadoes have twisted through all 50 of
    them. The central United States has more tornadoes than
    anywhere else in the world, around 700 of them annually.

  • Tornado alley includes the folowing states:
  • Texas
  • Oklahoma
  • Kansas
  • Nebraska
  • South Dakota
  • Iowa and
  • Minnesota

  • Tornados can strike anywhere!

  • Twighlight zone. Did you know that most twisters, which
    are born of thunderstorms, start forming between 3 p.m.
    and 9 p.m.? They hit at 250 miles per hour. Now that's
    some "dusk" storm!

  • Hail. Tornadoes are born of thunderstorms (thunder and
    lightning), and are accompanied by incredible hail balls
    that bomb the landscape.

  • Debris. Tornadoes themselves don't kill people, it's the
    accompanying debris that impales, and crushes. And here's
    a weird factoid: there was a fast-growing flesh-eating
    fungus after a tornado in Joplin, MO that seems like
    something out of a sci-fi movie, but it was the real deal.
    Thirteen people were infected and five of them died!

How to prepare for a tornado prepper-style is different from
tornado preparedness for the average person. Before a twister
heads your way grab a helmet, a whistle and ear plugs. Discover
more thoughtful preparedness ideas for surviving tornadoes.

How to Prepare for a Tornado

#1: Get your tornado gear in order.
The best way for how to prepare for a tornado is to be self
sufficient (you'll need to be your own first responder).

  • Radio. With a radio you'll be able to listen for tornado
    watches and warnings through the NOAA (National Oceanic
    and Atmospheric Administration - the United States
    Department of Commerce). The midland weather radio left
    is an ideal communications device for tornado
    preparedness. Remember that your electricity will fail as
    the tornado approaches your vicinity and shreds a path
    towards your home.

  • Cellphone. The greatest lifeline you may have is your
    cellphone if you set it up properly. Here's how to subscribe
    to weather alerts, such as tornado watches and warnings.

  • Hard hat or helmet. Have hard hats ready during tornado
    watches and wear them when you hear the warnings. Stock
    hard hats for every member of your family and a guest in
    the designated area (basement or safe room). The hardhat,
    right is affordable at under $7 and with available free
    shipping. This hard hat is the best selling hard hat in the
    world, and with good reason! MSA Hard Hats are
    lightweight and offer superior balance on the head,
    allowing comfortable, all-day wearing. The unique
    suspension ensures that the hard hat stays in place, even
    when bending over.

    If you don't have such a hard hat handy, a hockey helmet,
    bike helmet, or even a football helmet will certainly help.

  • Whistle. Having a whistle in your pocket may sound like
    odd advice in preparation for a tornado, but immediately
    following a twister, you and your loved ones will be calling
    from the rubble. A whistle could help identify your location
    when you are too weak to call out or help your family
    member get unburied from the rubble.

  • Ear plugs. Ear plugs are another unusual item to hoard in
    preparation for a tornado. Don't wear them until you hear
    the sirens and heed the warnings. Because of the low
    pressure, tornadoes are a noisy disaster and survivors of a
    tornado often complain about their ears ringing, and
    popping with pain. Essentially the pressure inside your ears
    become greater than the pressure outside your body. This
    pressure sucks the eardrums outward causing pain.

  • LED Flashlights and Chem light sticks. Traditional advice
    is to store flashlights, since the most deadly tornadoes
    strike at night. Without power following a tornado a chem
    light stick will provide the illumination you need. Choose
    light sticks for any application where a dependable battery-
    free, fire-free light source is required.

  • Insurance and photos. Occasionally a soggy family picture
    emerges from the rubble or a treasured heirloom, but don't
    expect it. Will your homeowners insurance or renter's policy
    take on a tornado? Most insurance policies cover
    "windstorms," but not for flooding. It's always a good to
    get your insurance in order before the twister devastates
    you financially. Insurers often say the most treasured and
    irreplaceable items are photos.

    With so much technology available, why not spend some
    time gathering family photos at ensuring
    you always have an album to print. Scan images or
    download them from your digital camera to lock them in
    the servers.

#2: Look for the signs of a Tornado.
Want to know if a tornado is headed your way? Learn how to
read the signs of an impending tornado! For starters, know the
difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning
when you hear alerts on the radio.

Tornado watch: officials are still watching the area.
The possibility of a tornado exists within the watch area. At this
juncture, you should review your supplies and safe room area,
and stay glued to your radio for more details.

Tornado warning: sighted and the danger is imminent.
Signs that a tornado is imminent include:
  • dark greenish clouds (sometimes referred to as "pea soup"
  • large hail;
  • debris clouds;
  • funnel clouds;
  • roaring noise.

Most tornadoes happen in the afternoon, however tornadoes are
most dangerous by night because there is little or no visibility
on the impending dangers.

Know the signs of a tornado so you can respond quickly and
find shelter:

#3: Know the drill.
Practice tornado drills with children, and know the routine of
heading to a safe room. Regularly talk about tornadoes and the
signs a tornado is headed your way. Survivors know they can
come even without thunderstorms.

  • Find the safe room. Take cover in a place without windows
    (and put as many walls between you and the storm as
  • underground shelter
  • interior part of the basement
  • interior bathroom
  • closet or hallway on the lowest floor
  • A place away from heavy objects like a refrigerator

  • Hunker down with padding. Grab a cushion from the sofa
    on the way to the safe room. Your safe room should have
    some padding materials handy, such as blankets. You can
    also hunker down under padding, such as a mattress to
    help shield the debris.

  • Live in a mobile home? Get out! Mobile home dwellers
    should seek refuge in a nearby building or designated
    shelter. If there's no shelter, it's better to lie down flat
    outside, somewhere away from the mobile home.

  • Not at a home? If there's no dedicated storm shelter, take
    cover as best you can. Avoid building elevators as the
    electricity could fail and you'll be stuck. Get yourself to the
    interior bathroom or stairwell on the first floor. At the
    movies, you can take shelter between the seats crouched
    into a ball.

  • Driving? Take a lesson from storm chasers and the Red
    Cross (and not Hollywood). It's true that your car could be
    tossed like a missile, but experts say you should stay in
    your parked car with your seatbelt on, and put your head
    down to shelter yourself from the window debris if you are
    unable to seek underground shelter. You can put your
    jacket over your head to help cushion potential blow.

    Should you head under an overpass while driving!? No!
    Remember that Hollywood is in California and they know
    nothing of real tornadoes. They do know earthquakes and
    what happens is that people get crushed under the cement.
    Why is their head in the fog about the overpass thing for
    tornadoes then?

    How to prepare your car for tornadoes:

  • Tornado Safety Tips. If you're faced with a tornado
  • Aim get to the bottom floor of a building.
  • Stay an the innermost area of the building (away from
  • Know a good location is a bathroom, closet or hallway.

#4: Don't waste precious minutes (get moving!).
To survive a tornado, do not believe in false alarms. This means
you should treat every watch and warning as the real deal. Seek
shelter and don't drive thinking it's a false alarm. Here's the
deal Just because you don't hear the sirens, doesn't mean there
isn't a tornado headed your way. As is the case many times, the
tornado has wiped out the siren communications!

Tornadoes come with an average warning time of around fifteen
minutes. Take every warning seriously and be on alert.

  • Stay informed.  Your cell phone may provide some tornado
    alert warnings (also text messages from concerned friends
    and family), but you should listen tune into the local news
    on television and listen to the NOAA weather radio reports
    for updates. You will hear reports of the tornado strength,
    which is based Fujita Scale with ratings between F0
    (weakest) to F5 (strongest).

  • Get your gear. Store sleeping bags and wool blankets in
    your bug in location (the centermost portion of your home,
    away from windows and on the lowest floor). Preppers will
    want to also store helmets (construction hard hats, or even
    bike helmets will help)

Before the tornado (if there is still time) ...

  • Put on a hard hat or helmet.  Grab a bicycle helmet,
    riding helmet or work hard hat (or have one close by).
    While the first priority is finding a safe room, if you have a
    designated area you should stock hard hats for every
    member of your family and  guest or two. Helmets are
    cheap and could prove a lifesaving decision.

  • Make sure you're wearing sturdy shoes. Emerging from
    the rubble after the twister rips through your home, you
    will need to protect your feet from shards of glass and
    various concrete and wooden obstacles.

  • Hunker down and huddle together and brace for the
    worst. Lock arms at the elbow, curl into a ball and huddle
    together under something sturdy, brace for the worst and
    hope for the best. Survivors are often incredulous that the
    person gets sucked into the debris cloud.

After the tornado (and you are okay)...

  • Get out of a building that has suffered structural damage.
  • Be aware of debris that could still kill you.

#5: Be your own first responder.

  • After you've weathered the storm, use your whistle to
    notify survivors of your whereabouts.

  • Triage the injured and use doors that have flung in the
    debris as stretchers to move injured people away from

  • Cleanup potentially flammable spills as best you can.

Other considerations for tornadoes...
Your home may become flattened like a pancake, so why bother
storing water in the tub? The reason you'd do this for the
chance your home still stands!

Water municipalities, as well as electricity and gas could be out
for several days as crews work towards recovery of the tornado
torn area. Your water supply will increase your self-sufficiency
and you will be able to help friends and neighbors.

  • Consider a WaterBob. As a prepper, you may already own
    WaterBob for other emergencies, but even if you do, you
    may want two (or three) depending on the size of your

Knowledge weighs nothing is a popular prepping saying. Now
that you know a little more about how to read the signs of an
impending tornado, and you know the signs you are better
prepared to handle whatever comes your way.

Happy endings...
Somewhere under the rainbow, blue birds will fly again after a
tornado strikes. Like any natural disaster, there's no place like
home when you're prepared! The number one thing you can do
to prepare for a tornado is to get some
first aid knowledge
under your belt. Take some classes, buy a book, stock up on
first aid essentials so you can respond to neighbors and friends
who may need your assistance. Like they say, knowledge
weighs nothing and you can learn to improvise even if the
damage is so great you've lost all your first aid supplies.

Thankfully F5 Tornadoes are extremely rare!

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