Tornadoes present a significant weather-related risk across much of the country. Last week, we began a two-part series about how to prepare for and recover from tornadoes, which is particularly important in 2016, thanks to El Niño. I sure hope El Niño won’t affect bacon production. That’s at the top of my emergency supply list.
As noted in last week’s post, the RJWestmore Training System has recently added a tornado module to further enhance our comprehensive training program. Last week, our post covered what to do to prepare for a tornado. The following post will wrap up our two-week series, focusing on what to do during and after a tornado.
During a Tornado
Many cities use an undulating, wailing warning system that sounds for three to four minutes to alert the public about tornadoes. I know a lot of dogs who use a similar system to warn their masters of impending doom. If you hear this signal or are otherwise notified that a tornado is imminent:
- Remain calm.
- At home or work, go to the pre-determined safe zone or basement as quickly as possible.
- If you are in a high-rise building, don’t stay in a large, open area that has windows. Instead, seek out a closet or interior hallway to take cover.
- Do not leave the building.
- If you cannot get to a safe zone or basement, seek shelter under a large, sturdy piece of furniture. I find that desks and chairs provide comfort as well as protection.
- Steer clear of windows and avoid being hit by flying objects.
- Listen to NOAA weather conditions.
- If you are away from home, find a small, interior room or hallway and protect your head and neck with your arms and a coat or blanket. And if you’re a canine, tuck in your tail.
- If you are in a vehicle, do not attempt to outdrive the tornado. But do not stay in the car, as tornadoes can significantly damage automobiles. Park the car as quickly as possible, well away from traffic. If possible, find shelter in a sturdy building or underground. If you are not near a building, seek shelter in a spot that is at the lowest level possible. It is a myth that an overpass would provide shelter from a tornado. It is far safer to literally lie low and cover your head and neck with your arms and a coat or blanket. But make sure you are far from trees and vehicles.
After a Tornado
Studies have shown that a great deal of tornado-related injuries occur after a tornado when people are walking among the debris and enter damaged buildings. Injuries can also occur during rescue attempts, cleanup and other post-tornado activities. So be careful and follow these tips:
- Unless you are facing a life-threatening situation, do not leave the safe zone until the warning has officially been lifted.
- Listen for emergency information and instructions as well as weather updates and the “all clear” signal.
- Do a quick survey of the damage to determine major hazards, looking for fires, leaks and electrical shorts.
- Anticipate power outages and use the flashlight in your emergency kit to light the way as you check interior spaces and during evacuation.
- Take time to have a snack. (Okay…I added that suggestion. But I think that snacks are always a good idea.)
- Do not use an open flame or turn on electrical switches, especially if you smell gas.
- Establish a safe location to use for triage. Do not move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.
- When it is safe to do so, use telephones for emergency calls, only.
- Avoid unnecessary movement, which could stir up debris and affect breathing.
- If you are trapped, tap on metal or another loud surface or, better yet, use a whistle to alert emergency responders. Shout only as a last resort. Bark, if applicable.
- When evacuation routes are determined to be safe and you are instructed to do so:
- Remain calm
- Do not use elevators
- Proceed to the safest exit, using the most continuous handrail
- Before opening any doors, feel the door with the back of your hand (or paw), to check for heat.
- Proceed to your designated safe refuge area and check in.
- Do not reenter the building until you are told it is safe to do so by building management and emergency responders.
Remember that safety is a daily priority, so be sure to think safety all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.