Tornadoes are the most sudden, unpredictable and violent storms on earth. Knowing how to survive a tornado is crucial, as more than 100 million people in the United States are at risk. With the risk for severe weather at this time of the year, the nonprofit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes offers these 10 tips for residents to stay safe.
- Create a family tornado plan and know where you can take shelter.
- Closely monitor NOAA Weather Radio or download the FLASH Weather Alerts app on your iOS or Android device.
- Take refuge in a tested and approved storm shelter, safe room or a community storm shelter labeled as an official tornado shelter. Community storm shelters may be found by contacting your local Office of Emergency Management for the closest community storm shelter. If available, community storm shelters are commonly located in community buildings, such as schools, libraries, churches or even airports.
- If no shelter is available:
- Are you indoors? Go to the lowest floor, to a small, center interior room, under a stairwell or to an interior hallway with no windows.
- Crouch down as low as possible to the floor, face down and cover your head with your arms. Cover yourself with a blanket, mattress, helmet or other thick covering. Wear footwear with thick soles to your safe location.
- Are you in a mobile home? Get out. Even if your home is tied down, it is not as safe as a sturdy building. Go to a nearby permanent structure.
- Are you in a vehicle? Do not attempt to drive away from a tornado. Go to a nearby permanent structure. Do not shelter under an overpass, bridge or in a drainage ditch. If you cannot safely exit your vehicle, park it out of traffic lanes. Stay in the vehicle with your seatbelt on. Put your head below the windows and protect it with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion.
- Are you outdoors? Shelter in a sturdy building. If no shelter is available, lie face down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms.
- Keep your family together in a safe location and wait for emergency personnel to arrive.
- Stay away from power lines, downed trees and puddles that could hide live wires.
- Watch your step to avoid sharp objects.
- Stay out of heavily damaged structures, as they may collapse.
- Do not use matches or lighters in case of leaking natural gas or fuel tanks.
- Listen to your radio for information and instructions.
The tornadoes already this year and in the past three years have highlighted the tremendous benefits of tested and approved safe rooms and storm shelters. Installing a safe room or storm shelter built to FEMA P-361 guidelines or the ICC/NSSA 500 standard can make a life-or-death difference. A site-built safe room can also be constructed in accordance with the prescriptive designs found in FEMA P-320: Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business, which meets the FEMA P-361 guidelines and the ICC/NSSA 500 standard. For more information on severe weather and tornado safety, visit www.flash.org and www.protect-your-home.org.
Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, is the country’s leading consumer advocate for strengthening homes and safeguarding families from natural and manmade disasters. FLASH collaborates with more than 100 innovative and diverse partners that share its vision of making America a more disaster‐resilient nation including: BASF, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Florida Division of Emergency Management, The Home Depot®, International Code Council, Kohler® Generators, National Weather Service, Portland Cement Association, RenaissanceRe, Simpson Strong-Tie®, State Farm™, USAA® and WeatherPredict Consulting Inc. In 2008, FLASH opened the interactive weather experience StormStruck: A Tale of Two Homes® in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Learn more about FLASH and gain access to its free consumer resources by visiting www.flash.org or calling 877-221- SAFE (7233). Also, get timely safety tips to ensure you and your family are protected from natural and manmade disasters by subscribing to the FLASH blog – Protect Your Home in a FLASH.