- Tornados can form rapidly from storm systems.extreme weather image by Calin Tatu from Fotolia.com
Tornadoes are the most violent storms occurring in much of the Midwest and central United States. A tornado can have winds in excess of 300 miles/hour and cause a path of destruction a mile wide and up to 50 miles long, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). While fatalities occur each year from tornadoes, safety precautions can be taken to lower the risk for loss of life.
Know the Warnings
- The National Weather Service issues weather warnings for many types of dangerous weather including tornados. A tornado watch means conditions are favorable for a tornado to form and the population should be watchful. A tornado warning means a tornado has been confirmed in the area and the public is warned to take active safety precautions.
The public is advised to monitor the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration radio for watches and warnings. Weather alerts are also broadcast by local commercial radio and television stations. Anytime weather conditions look favorable for a tornado, such as dark greenish skies, hail, low clouds that might be rotating or a loud roaring noise, the public should monitor radio sources for warning information.
Tornado Safety Indoors
- During a tornado warning, people are advised to take shelter indoors on the lowest level of the building. If no basement is available, seek shelter in a center room such as a closet or hallway. The idea is to place as many walls as possible between the exterior of the building and the shelter area. Additional protection may be available by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture. Do as much as possible to protect the head from any potential flying debris. Keep windows closed during tornado warnings.
Residents of trailers or mobile homes should abandon the home and seek shelter in a more permanent building or storm shelter.
Tornado Safety Outdoors
- If it is impossible to seek shelter indoors, FEMA advises seeking shelter in any ditch or depression in the ground. The idea is to get below the level where debris will be flying. However, be aware of flooding potential, as tornadoes are often accompanied by heavy rain.
FEMA warns that it is impossible to outrun a tornado in a car or truck. Leave the vehicle and seek shelter. If the tornado is a distance away, drive at a right angle to the path of the storm to try to avoid the storm. If the tornado begins to approach, leave the vehicle and seek shelter.