Tornado season traditionally begins in the spring, but the last couple of winters have seen an increase in severe weather outbreaks, especially in the south. Having an understanding of what to do when a twister is approaching can save your life, and there are certain preparations that everyone can make to increase their chances of survival. Knowing where to run, hide and seek shelter can make all of the difference in the world, and planning and rehearsing what to do when the sirens go off can save your life.
While the chances of being marooned or trapped after a tornado are remote, there are times when people can not have access to rescue for hours or even days. Safe-rooms and shelters can be buried under rubble and emergency services may be overwhelmed. Every home and office should have a survival kit that is located in the safe room where you will take refuge if a tornado is approaching. This should include water, food, blankets, flashlights, batteries, a first aid kit and a radio. Try to bring your cell-phone with you, and also try to have shoes on your feet before you duck and cover in case you have to walk through debris after the storm passes.
Most communities in America have advance warning systems that give people more than enough time to seek shelter and get out of harm’s way. However, some tornadoes form quickly, change direction and grow in intensity. There are times when people do not have ample time to prepare and get to their designated safe area. If you are in a car, mobile home or apartment complex, it is important to find a safe and low-lying area to hide in. Never try to outrun a tornado, and always remember that many structures such as apartment buildings and mobile homes cannot withstand the tremendous forces that a direct impact will cause.
If you are in the path of a tornado, get in the lowest possible level of the structure and make sure that you are in an interior room. Stay away from doors and windows, and try to cover yourself with a blanket, jacket or shirt in order to protect your body from debris. Curling up with your head resting between your legs can add an extra layer of protection. If you are outside, try and seek shelter under a bridge, in a drainage ditch or even inside a building that is strong and secure. Never try and out run a tornado, and never stay in your vehicle unless there is absolutely nowhere for you to hide.
Many homes in the south have storm shelters, basements or other areas that are reinforced and designed to protect occupants against a direct hit from a tornado. Survival kits are ideal for these locations, and they can provide excellent resources that may come in handy after the storm passes and the wait for help begins. Having a radio can help people to stay connected to news and updates, and making sure that access to first aid supplies is also a must. Many people sustain minor to serious injuries from flying debris that is as small as a tooth pick, and it is important to have material on hand that can treat injuries before help arrives.
Most deaths from tornadoes stem from being struck by debris or from structural collapses. Staying away from open spaces is the best way to protect yourself from being injured or killed. Having time to seek shelter is the single and most important advantage that anyone has when faced with in impending storm, and people should take warnings seriously, even if they turn out to be false alarms.
The aftermath of a twister can be as insignificant as cleaning up a few fallen branches and repairing a couple of broken windows, or entire towns can be wiped off of the map. There is no way to predict the magnitude of these storms before they form, and they strike in different areas without rhyme or reason. Being prepared, having a plan for where to seek shelter and having access to supplies and post-storm resources is essential.
Global warming and climate change are leading to more unpredictable weather and storms. People who live in areas that have historically not seen tornadoes are now learning about their ferocity. Anyone who is in an area where tornadoes are possible should take steps to protect their health and well-being, and coming up with a plan of attack is the best way to stay alive. The damage from a tornado may be unavoidable, but having access to supplies, resources and an escape route can minimize the impact they will have on your life, health and overall safety. Take tornadoes seriously, and take steps to ensure that you do not become a victim.