Tornados can form in the blink of an eye. Sometimes they strike quickly without time for a warning, other times they can transpire out of the remnants of a bad thunderstorm. While many people think you’re safe from a tornado unless you see a funnel, that might not always be the case. The funnel of a tornado may be hidden by the clouds or rain of a thunderstorm. So, it’s best to always be prepared. Some tell-tale signs to look for are a large, dark, low-hanging cloud, large hail, a dark or green-colored sky, and/or a loud roaring sound that reminds you of a freight train.
If any of these signs are occurring, here are some steps to keep you and your family safe for the remainder of the storm. Of course, if you only have a limited time before the tornado hits, we would advise you to use an abbreviated version of this list and make sure that cover and shelter are your top priorities.
Have a Plan
It’s important to be prepared for these types of situations before the weather turns sour. Put together a hurricane and tornado preparedness kit, go over what your plan will be with your family. Some things to have in your kit include a:
- Battery-powered radio
- List of important phone numbers
- Non-perishable food
- Extra batteries
- First Aid kit
It’s also important to know the difference between a tornado warning and a tornado watch. A watch is issued when tornadoes are possible because of other severe weather and are in the surrounding area. A warning is issued when a tornado has been spotted and touched down on weather radar. Once a warning occurs, it’s time to begin preparing for a tornado to pass near where you’re located.
Move Outdoor Things Inside
Make sure to bring in outdoor furniture, toys, garden tools, etc. that can be moved inside. Anything that is anchored to the ground is fine, but if it’s not, it’s a good idea to move those things indoors so they don’t potentially become a hazard.
Create a “safe room” in your home where you can go when a tornado is in the area. If you have a basement, this is the best place for you to be during a tornado. If not, you should go to an interior ground room floor such as a bathroom or closet. If you don’t have time to get to one of these rooms, you can take cover under a heavy table or desk.
Stay Away From Windows
This is a given – but wherever you choose to be during a tornado, it’s imperative that there are no windows in your nearest vicinity. Windows are capable of being broken and exposed to the elements, so a room without any exposure to the outdoors will be your best bet.
The most important step on the list – wherever you are, take cover. If you are short on time and can’t run through these steps, just remember to go to the innermost part of your home on the lowest possible floor. Kneel down and protect your head with your hands, making yourself as small a target as possible. You can use pillows, cushions, blankets, or even a mattress in attempts to barricade yourself from flying debris. Stay there until you’re sure the tornado has passed.
When preparing yourself for a tornado, it’s important to remain calm and always have this list in the back of your mind. No matter how fast a storm can form if your mind is prepared with these safekeeping steps, you will be better kept from harm’s way.