Preparing your home for a tornado could be the difference between life and death for you and your family. In “Preparing Your Home for a Tornado Part I” we discussed steps to take before the storm hits. In Part II we discuss additional steps to take during and after the storm.
Find Immediate Shelter When you Hear the Sirens
If you are fortunate enough to live in an area where there are tornado sirens, find out what they sound like. When you hear tornado sirens you and your family should find immediate shelter, moving to an interior room, storm shelter or basement. You and your family should listen for tornado watches and warnings. A tornado watch is issued when conditions are right for tornado development in your area. Whether a severe thunderstorm watch or tornado watch has been issued, you should be aware of weather conditions in your area. A tornado warning is issued when a tornado has been seen or radar indicated the presence of a tornado in your area. Seek immediate shelter when a tornado warning has been issued.
Tornado emergencies are tornado warnings that are issued because a tornado has been spotted and is heading to a densely populated area. This was the case in Oklahoma City, OK two weeks ago. When a severe thunderstorm warning is issued you and your family should take precaution, staying indoors and watching for the possible development of tornadoes.
You may not always be at home when tornado warnings and watches are issued. If you’re in a structure, move to the most interior room on the first floor or to the basement. Stay clear of windows and anything that could hit you like chairs and bookcases. Mobile homes and trailers offer little protection. Move away from these structures to more secure locations. If you are in your car, drive to the nearest shelter away from the storm. If you can’t make it there in time, keep your seat belt on, duck below and cover yourself with a blanket or a coat. Don’t hide under overpasses or bridges. These places will not protect you from flying debris. If you’re caught in an open field during a storm, duck as close as possible to the ground and cover your head. Once you’ve reached a secure location, wait until high winds have died down before you go outside.
If a tornado has touched down in your area, here’s a list of things to do to keep your family and your home more secure. Address your injured family members first. Wait out the storm and seek medical assistance. Next, shut off your utilities. Turn off your water, electricity and gas. Gas leaks are extremely dangers and can cause explosions or fires. If you suspect a gas leak, refrain from using a lighter if you’ve not already turned off your utilities. Before leaving your house, inspect it for structural damage that could harm your family. If any part of your home is not safe, you need to find different shelter. Families whose homes have been damaged or destroyed should seek an evacuation center. While evacuation centers often have supplies, it’s a good idea to bring whatever emergency supplies you can with you.
If you were fortunate that your home was spared, join in the rescue efforts or volunteer. Help your neighbors with the clean-up, removing hazardous objects with care, taking pictures for insurance companies. Follow public officials orders so you are making a positive contribution and not damaging the situation any further.