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It seemed like American citizens everywhere had a reason to be concerned from February to June of this past year. Tornadoes ripped through the country across several states. Homes were destroyed. People were left helpless and in need of assistance. Those not affected by the tornadoes spinning through the country were still curious. Why are these tornadoes hitting places that they don’t typically occur? How does one stay safe when a tornado comes?
Several groups have come together in order to give advice on tornado safety.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (also known as NOAA) has a great list of tips:
One of the first things the NOAA staff suggests is to practice and prepare before a storm. It is important to make a plan based on the building one may be in when a tornado strikes by having drills so that every person knows how to stay safe in the storm.
Secondly, it is important to know the signs of a tornado particularly if experiencing one for the first time. This is important so that one knows the difference between severe wind and rain and a tornado. When looking for a tornado, one might see these signs: a strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base, whirling dust or debris (because tornadoes don’t always make a funnel!), hail or heavy rain followed by a calm, a loud roar or rumble that doesn’t fade like thunder, ground level flashes of light at night, and a persistent lowering of a cloud base at night.
Based on where one may be when a tornado strikes, there are several things to do:
In a house with a basement, avoid windows and get to the basement as quickly as possible and under some form of sturdy protection like a mattress or sleeping bag. Do not locate under anything heavy on the floor above the basement for risk of it crushing you. If you do this, it reduces your risk of being taken by the winds at a high level or crushed by heavy items.
In an apartment, dorm, hospital or office, again avoid windows. Hide in an enclosed room like a closet or bathroom. Hide under a stairwell. Like the Cold War, duck and cover! Staying low and enclosed will reduce your risk of being hit by debris!
In a mobile home, at all costs, GET OUT and find a local tornado shelter. Tornadoes can easily rip through mobile homes and therefor cause great damage rather quickly.
In schools and other public places, follow the preset drill. Using the drill will not just keep you safe but everyone in your surroundings. It will most likely planned to duck and cover, remaining low in order to stay safe.
The most dangerous places to be during a tornado are outside or in a car. Seek shelter as quickly as possible. If you’re outside when a tornado occurs and are not able to seek shelter, lie flat face down with your arms protecting the back of your head. If driving in low traffic, steer in a right angle against the tornado if getting out of your car is not an option. Both of these, though not exactly perfect, will reduce the amount of debris that might hit you.
After a tornado strikes, remain where you are and wait for emergency professionals to come to you with whomever you were with during the storm. Keep a first aid kit handy to repair simple injuries as a way to stay safe after the storm.