What's the difference?
A tornado watch means the Storm Prediction Center in Norman,Oklahoma, has determined that weather conditions exist which could produce tornadoes.
A tornado has been sighted by trained spotters, law enforcement officials, or has been indicated by National Weather Service Doppler Radar. This means take cover now! Put your tornado safety plan into action.
What do I do?
If at work or school:
Go to the basement or to an inside hallway at the lowest level.
Avoid places with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums, cafeterias, large hallways, or shopping malls.
Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench or heavy table or desk and hold on to it.
Use arms to protect head and neck.
Protect head and chest- crouch, face to floor, hands behind head.
Cover yourself with blankets, pillows or coats.
Never choose upstairs locations because tornadic wind speeds increase with height above the ground.
Choose a small closet or bathroom, because small rooms are less susceptible to collapse. Take shelter within the bathtub if there are no glass tub enclosures or large mirrors nearby.
If possible, get inside a building.
If shelter is not available or there is no time to get indoors, lie in a ditch or low-lying area or crouch near a strong building. Be aware of the potential for flooding.
Use arms to protect head and neck.
If in a car:
Never try to outdrive a tornado in a car or truck. Tornadoes can change direction quickly and can lift up a car or truck and toss it through the air.
Get out of the car immediately and take shelter in a nearby building.
If there is no time to get indoors, get out of the car and lie in a ditch or low-lying area away from the vehicle. Be aware of the potential for flooding.
If you are outside in open country:
Take cover and lie flat in the nearest depression, such as a ditch, culvert, excavation or ravine, and cover your head with your arms.
In mobile homes:
Leave your mobile home immediately.
If there is no designated community shelter, take cover in a ditch or depression.
Persons in mobile homes should have a plan of action before threatening weather occurs.
If you feel your home is unsafe:
Familiarize yourself with the shelters available in your community, and move yourself and your family there before the storm hits.
Things to know:
While tornadoes can happen at any time, a large percentage of tornadoes occur between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., when there's a good chance you'll be at work. Children at home should be taught in advance about where to go inside the home... as quickly and calmly as possible.
Tornadoes happen every month of the year, although most tornadoes occur in April, May and June.
Tornado Disaster Tips
States by the most tornadoes in 1993: Texas (117); Kansas (113);
South Dakota (85); Colorado (71); and Nebraska (70).
Total number of U.S. tornadoes in 1993: 1,173.
Before a Tornado:
Make a written or videotaped inventory of household possessions/property and store in a safe place with insurance policies, documents and other valuables.
Identify a safe location in your home--a basement, center hallway, bathroom or closet on the lowest floor.
Take a first aid class from your local Red Cross Chapter.
Assemble a disaster kit including: first aid kit, medications, battery-powered radio, flashlight, extra batteries, canned food, can opener, bottled water, sturdy shoes and work gloves.
Make a utilities checklist with instructions on how to turn them off.
Conduct periodic tornado drills.
Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information and for instructions if a disaster occurs.
Check your homeowners insurance policy to make sure you're covered for damage due to tornadoes.
Look & Listen for:
Large hail, heavy rain, strong winds, frequent intense lightning ...bulge with a rotary motion at the base of the thunderstorm cloud ...loud roar like the sound of a jet or train.
© 2001 Lee Davis