Tornado Safety Tips: Stay Informed, Have a Plan, Get to Cover Fast

Posted Thursday, 23 May 2019 ‐ The New York Times

A band of strong thunderstorms storms sweeping across the Plains and Midwest spawned a wave of tornadoes, including one that did substantial damage in Missouri’s capital city and others that left at least three people dead.
Here’s what you can do to stay safe when tornadoes are threatening your area, based on recommendations from the National Weather Service and other experts.
[ Read the latest developments on the tornadoes in Missouri. ]
When powerful thunderstorms are coming
Stay alert for watches and warnings. A “watch” means conditions are right for a tornado to form somewhere in a wide area; a “warning” means one has definitely been sighted nearby. Monitor local news broadcasts and online alerts; listen for sirens if they are used in your area. One good source to check regularly: The National Weather Service’s special tornado Twitter feed.
When a watch is posted, get ready. Have a plan and make sure everyone in the family knows what it is. Don’t forget to plan for pets. Secure outdoor objects that might become dangerous in a high wind, like lawn furniture and gas grills. Have any prescription medicines ready to take with you to shelter.
When a warning is posted, head for cover right away. You may have only a few minutes to reach safety.
[See photos of the damage caused by deadly tornadoes in Missouri.]
Where to shelter when a tornado strikes
If you are indoors: The cellar or basement, or if there is none, an interior room without windows on the lowest floor. Stay near the center of the room. Avoid large, open indoor spaces like school cafeterias and shopping malls.
If you are outdoors: The sturdiest building you can reach quickly. Avoid sheds, storage facilities and other lightly built structures.
If you are driving: Don’t try to ride out the storm in your vehicle if you can help it. Get into a building, or failing that, try to find shelter in a low-lying area like a ditch or ravine. If you have no other option, get down as low as you can in the car.
Wherever you are, cover up, especially your head. Television forecasters often recommend wearing a bicycle helmet if one is available. Get under a sturdy piece of furniture like a desk or workbench, or cover your body with a sleeping bag or mattress.
When the tornado passes
Stay informed. Keep monitoring local news, alerts, watches and warnings. There may be more storms coming, or other hazards from severe weather like hail, lightning and flooding.
Check in. Let family and friends know how you are faring. Text messages and social media posts may be most effective.
Tread carefully in assessing damage. Protect yourself with sturdy shoes, long pants and long sleeves. Be alert for hazards like downed power lines, broken glass, sharp or jagged metal debris and damaged propane tanks. Look up as well as down, for possible danger from damaged trees and utility poles.

Tag: #Weather #Tornadoes #AccidentsAndSafety #DisastersAndEmergencies #NationalWeatherService

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