Tornado Safety Tips

Safety Tips

Although tornados and severe storms can strike any time conditions are right, tornado season is usually a spring occurrence in our part of the country. About one thousand tornados hit the United States yearly. "When a tornado is coming, you have only a short amount of time to make a life-or-death decisions, "Attorney General Mark Pryor warns consumers. "Advance planning and a quick response are the keys to surviving a tornado." Some safety tips include the following:

BEFORE

  • Conduct tornado drills each tornado season.
  • Designate an area in the house as a shelter, and practice having everyone in the family go there in response to a tornado threat.
  • Discuss with family members the difference between a "tornado watch" and a "tornado warning".

Have disaster supplies on hand:

  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries
  • First aid kit and manual
  • Emergency food and water
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Essential medicines
  • Cash and credit cards
  • Sturdy shoes

Develop and emergency communication plan:

In case family members are separated from one another during a tornado ( a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), have a plan for getting back together.

Tornado Danger Signs

Learn these tornado danger signs:

  • An approaching cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible.
  • Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still.
  • Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.

DURING

If at home:

  • Go at once to a windowless, interior room; storm cellar; basement; or lowest level of the building.
  • If there is no basement, go to an inner hallway or a smaller inner room without windows, such as a bathroom or closet.
  • Get away from the windows.

Mobile homes are particularly vulnerable. A mobile home can overturn very easily even if precautions have been taken to tie down the unit. When a tornado warning is issued, take shelter in a building with a strong foundation. If shelter is not available, lie in a ditch or low-lying area a safe distance away from the unit.

  • Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they tend to attract debris.
  • 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.
  • If in a mobile home, get out and find shelter elsewhere.

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.

If outdoors:

  • 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.

In a car:

  • Never try to out drive 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.

AFTER

  • Help injured or trapped persons.
  • Give first aid when appropriate.
  • Don't try to move the seriously injured unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.
  • Call for help.
  • Turn on radio or television to get the latest emergency information.
  • Stay out of damaged buildings. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, or gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the buildings if you smell gas or chemical fumes.
  • Take pictures of the damage--both to the house and its contents--for insurance purposes.

Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance--infants, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

For further information on this or other consumer matters, contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's Office at Suite 200, 323 Center Street, Little Rock, AR 72201. The office can be reached by calling 1-800-482-8982 or (479) 682-2341.