Prepare For Tornado

Know what to do when tornado warnings sound.

Even though the Mid-South is not technically in “Tornado Alley,” we still see our fair share of these unpredictable and violent storms. Although tornadoes can come with little or no warning, you can take several basic steps right now to protect your home and your family.

Five simple steps:

  • Decide in advance your home’s “safe place.” If your home has no basement or storm cellar, plan to go to the centermost part of your ground level, away from exterior walls or windows. If that place is a closet, think now about how you would fit into it during an emergency. The time to clean out closets is not during a tornado warning.
  • As part of your family communication plan, review where you will take shelter if you are at work or kids are at school.
  • When a tornado warning sounds, go immediately to your safe area at home or work or school. Remember, the more walls between you and the outside, the better. If you are in a bathroom, place children in the tub and cover them with sofa cushions or heavy blankets. Flying debris is one of the leading causes of injury during a tornado.
  • Get under something sturdy, such as a heavy table, hold and stay there until the danger has passed.
  • Do not open any windows. Stay away from doors.

Other steps:

  • If you have time during a warning, secure your pets. Place leashes on dogs and place cats in carriers.
  • If you out-of-doors during a tornado warning, seek shelter right away. If there is no building nearby, lie flat in a low spot. Use your arms and hands to protect your head and neck.
  • When outdoors do not lie in low-lying areas that may flood.
  • Don’t stay under highway overpasses or bridges, as flying debris can be blown under these structures.

Prepare your home for tornado season:

  • Look over your home. Pay attention to the windows, doors, roof and gables. Check where the roof meets the wall or the wall meets the foundation.
  • Keep your trees and shrubbery trimmed.
  • Make sure your property is as free of “free-flying” debris as possible. Limit the number of toys, tools, etc. around your property.

Some facts about tornadoes:

  • If a “watch” has been issued, it means that conditions are right in your area for a tornado. If a “warning” has been issued, it means that a tornado has been sighted and you should seek shelter immediately.
  • Tornadoes have been spotted in every state and can happen at any time of the year.
  • A tornado develops from severe thunderstorms in warm, moist unstable air along and ahead of cold fronts. Land-falling hurricanes also may produce tornadoes.
  • Tornadoes often occur when it is not raining. Very large hail, however, does fall in the immediate area of a tornado.
  • A greenish or greenish-black sky is often associated with tornadoes. An “eery calm” after a thunderstorm also is associated with tornadoes.
  • An approaching tornado often sounds like a whistle or rushing air at first, building to the typical “freight train” or jet engine sound.