At least 13 people died and dozens more were injured as recent, severe storms brought flooding and tornadoes to Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas. That sounds even worse than the one Dorothy survived in the Wizard of Oz! Just one snapshot of the havoc that tornadoes cause, this event demonstrates why tornadoes are considered nature’s most violent storms – able to level entire neighborhoods and city streets in mere seconds. Equally disturbing, in many areas of the country, the question about tornadoes is not “if,” but “when?”Subscribers to the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System have access to a comprehensive tornado training module
Your community could face the wrath of the phenomenon described as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds of up to 300 miles per hour. I hope our community doesn’t experience a tornado. I’m not sure the doghouse would survive. Subscribers to the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System have access to a comprehensive tornado training module, which explains how to be safe before, during and after a tornado hits. In our ongoing effort to help educate and keep our friends and subscribers safe, we have also assembled some valuable tornado trivia and tips:
- Damage paths can exceed one mile wide and 50 miles long. I’ve seen cats do that much damage.
- The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 mph, but may vary from stationary to 70 mph.
- Although the average tornado moves Southwest to Northeast, tornadoes can move in any direction.
- Every state is at some risk of tornadoes, although certain states are more tornado-prone. For example, in the Midwest, tornadoes are frequently reported east of the Rocky Mountains during spring and summer months.
- Peak tornado season in southern states is March through May; in the northern states, it is late spring through early summer.
- Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m., but can occur at any time.
- Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while others are obscured by rain or nearby low-hanging clouds.
- Certain tornadoes develop so rapidly that little advanced warning is possible.
- Before a tornado hits, winds may die down and air may become still. In fact, some attribute the idiom, “calm before the storm,” to this phenomenon.
- Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm.
- A cloud of debris may mark the location of a tornado even when a funnel is not visible. A cloud of debris seems to follow my son, JR.
- They may appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up or a cloud forms in the funnel.
- It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.
- A Tornado Watch means tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms.
- A Tornado Warning indicates a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Immediately take shelter.
Before a Tornado
- Build an emergency kit.
- Make a family communications plan.
- Consider building a “safe room.” For more about this, see Gov.
- Listen to National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information.
- Notice changing weather conditions. Look for approaching storms.
- Be aware of the following danger signs: dark, greenish sky; large hail; a large, dark, low-flying cloud, and/or a loud roar (like a freight train).
- If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.
During a Tornado
If you are in a structure when a tornado hits:
- Go to a pre-designated area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the center of a small interior room on the lowest building level. In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
- Put on sturdy shoes.
- Keep windows closed.
- Bring your pets inside.
If you are in a manufactured home or office when a tornado hits:
Immediately exit and head to a pre-identified location such as the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. This advice would also probably apply to doghouses.
If you are outside without shelter when a tornado happens:
If you are not in a sturdy building, there is no single research-based recommendation for the last-resort action to take because many factors can affect your decision. Possible actions include:
- Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If your vehicle is hit by flying debris while you are driving, pull over and park.
- Take cover in a stationary vehicle. Put the seat belt on and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
- Lie in an area noticeably lower than the level of the roadway and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
In every situation:
- Never seek cover under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
- Don’t try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas, while in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter. Sounds like it might be hard to outrun tornado wherever you are.
- Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.
- Listen to local weather reports and officials for updates and instructions.
- Check-in with family and friends by texting or using social media.
- Watch out for debris and downed power lines.
- If you are trapped, do not move about or kick up dust. Tap on a pipe or wall or use a whistle, if you have one, to alert rescuers about your location.
- Stay out of damaged buildings and homes. Sounds like a good idea even without the tornado.
- Photograph the damage to your property to assist in filing insurance claims.
- Do what you can to prevent further damage to your property, (e.g., putting a tarp on a damaged roof), as insurance may not cover additional damage that occurs after the storm.
- If your home is without power, use flashlights or battery-powered lanterns rather than candles to prevent accidental fires.
Remember that safety is important for everyone across continents. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.