Tornadoes can bring high winds and leave massive destruction in their wake. The most violent of these, EF5 storms, tend to touch down in the Great Plains region, which has earned the nickname “Tornado Alley,” but can occur anywhere east of the Continental Divide. However, every state is at risk for tornadoes, so it’s best to prepare, no matter where you live.
As summer approaches and warm weather arrives, the risk for tornadoes increases. Create an emergency plan with your family following guidelines from ready.gov. Your preparations should include identifying a local shelter, knowing the evacuation route you should follow, and developing a communication strategy to stay in touch if disaster strikes.
You should also build an emergency preparedness kit, complete with water, non-perishable food, medications, and any specialty items certain family members need. Also, make a list of important information, such as insurance policy numbers and phone numbers for your doctor, child’s school, and the police station.
The key to protecting yourself and your family is to act quickly when adverse weather conditions arrive. If thunderstorms are in the forecast, stay on the lookout for signs of an approaching tornado, such as:
- A dark or green-colored sky
- Large, dark, low-lying, and fast-moving clouds
- Large hail
- Increasing wind speeds
Remain informed of weather conditions by tuning in to your local radio station, news channel, or NOAA weather radio. You may hear the term “tornado watch”—which means a tornado could develop in your area—or “tornado warning”—which means a funnel cloud has been spotted or detected by weather radar. Other times, the storm develops so quickly that there isn’t time to issue these warnings.
Know How to Respond
Flying and falling debris are the most hazardous elements of a tornado. While there is no guaranteed haven during these violent storms, some locations are safer than others. Here’s how to respond if you hear a tornado siren:
- Go to a cellar, basement, or FEMA safe room. If none of these are available, hunker down in an interior room on the lowest floor of the building.
- Get underneath something sturdy, if possible, such as a heavy table or workbench.
- Stay away from the windows.
- Cover your body with a blanket, sleeping bag, or mattress. Protect your head with a helmet, pillow, or your arms.
- If you live in a mobile home, evacuate and seek shelter in a sturdy building.
- If you’re outside, try to reach a protective structure. If that’s not possible, seek shelter in a low-lying spot, such as a ditch. Don’t hide under a highway overpass, as it could collapse if damaged.
Once the storm passes, contact DKI to begin the cleanup process. As North America’s largest disaster restoration contracting organization, our elite disaster restoration experts provide the best chance of restoring your property after a tornado. Call us at 844-354-2255 for 24/7 assistance.