Nature is pretty beautiful, eh? But even nature knows how to show her teeth every once in a while. Say this past summer that we have had. It felt like you’d melt if you’d step into the sun for more than 10 minutes. When it comes to nature unleashing its power upon us, the first things that pop into our mind are tornadoes and hurricanes. Boy, tornadoes carry winds up to 300mph, winds that can crash down buildings and keep cars hovering through the air ar 80 feet. And if that isn’t scary enough, often times there are also heavy thunderstorms. But the thing is that when tornadoes strike, your choices mean life or death, so it is highly important to be know how to survive.
Surviving in a Building
If a tornado has struck and you are in a building, then go as down as possible. That means anything that is underground. So, when you hear the very first warning of a tornado, seek immediate shelter. Do not wait until you actually see the tornado. The thing is that when a tornado has been indicated by a radar, it means that you have more time to react and prepare for it. Go to the basement of the building and make sure you stay away from windows. Cover yourself with a mattress, cushions or sleeping bags. If you can, hide under a heavy table that will most likely protect you from potential falling debris.
Something else you can try out is staying in a room where there are no windows and on the lowest level. So, in buildings that have no basements, you must make sure to avoid windows at all cost and head to the lowest floor. If there are no such windowless rooms, then try heading to a room that is in the middle of the house. No matter your location, make sure to lie down and cover your head with hands and arms. Make sure to cover yourself with a mattress, blanket or cushions. Bathrooms are also super effective because one, you can lie in a bathtub, and two, they are fortified by pipes. Stay as far away as possible from elevators as electricity can go out and you might get stuck.
Something else that is of high importance is to acknowledge where to seek shelter. There are locations that can easily be damaged by strong winds. Here is a list of places that should be your last choice when it comes to tornadoes:
Open rooms with lots of windows
Buildings with flat, wide roofs
You should make sure to stay in your shelter until the danger has passed completely. If you have access to, listen for advisories from the National Weather Service and Environment Canada. You have to bear in mind that multiple tornadoes can occur in the same area. Use your gut and common sense, too. That means that if you see that a tornado has passed but the area looks pretty dangerous, then stay in your shelter for a little longer.
When it’s time to leave, do it very carefully. When tornadoes strike, you can run into things like floods, debris, falling debris, blocked roads as well as collapsed/collapsing buildings. Keep in mind that you must avoid power lines and puddles of water that have wires in them. Do not enter those damaged buildings. And do not light a match or a lighter, as there might be gas leak caused by damage.
Surviving Out in the Open
The first thing you need to do is acknowledge the signs of a potential tornado. The faster you realize what is going on, the more time you have to react and seek help. Unfortunately, not much works out in the open. So, your number one advice is to seek shelter as soon as you see these warning signs:
Dark, green-tinted clouds
Loud roaring noises, like airplanes taking off
“Wall clouds,” where the base of a thunderhead seems to lower
Funnels or rotating clouds
Debris and dust “walls.”
Your safest option is to drive to the closest shelter. But to do this, you must first receive the news that the affected area is still safe to drive. Get to some sort of structure that preferably has a basement. Look out for these signs: 1. The tornado and/or the debris is making driving dangerous. In this case, you must stop. 2. Your car is being hit by debris. You must pull over. And 3. Please do not ever try to out-drive the tornado. Get to a building instead.
If you fail to find any building close to you, then stay in your car. Put on the seat belt and then duck down below the window line. Put something over your head, say a blanket or your jacket/coat. Hold your hands over your head to protect your skull from any damage.
Let’s face it. A tornado can strike and that doesn’t mean we will have access to our car. But, no need to freak out. Here’s what you can do: find the lowest spot possible and lay face down. Cover your head with your hands to protect your skull from any damage. If possible, cover your whole body with something to prevent scratches from falling debris.
In times of tornadoes, make sure to avoid overpasses, bridges as well as areas that have the potential to shed debris. I know it is a stressful situation but keep in mind that the falling and the flying of the debris is what causes most damage during tornadoes. If all you have is an overpass and an open area, opt for the open area instead and get as low as possible.
Caught on open water is quite dangerous. While waterspouts, the tornadoes that form over water, are weaker and slower than those on land, they pose a big problem. You cannot seek shelter on the open water. So, when you see a waterspout, try to get out of the water. But if it hits the water while you’re in there, then try sailing at right angles of its path, not straight away from it. But, if the waterspout hits while you’re on land, then move away from it as far as possible. Though waterspouts rarely reach the land, you must treat them like any other tornado.
Preparing for a Tornado
You must pay careful attention to the warnings and make sure to keep an eye on what’s going on around. Tornado warnings are very serious because it means that a radar has spotted a tornado. So, in this case, you need to take immediate action to protect yourself.
When there is a tornado warning, make sure to create an emergency plan for your house. It would be good if you could practice it beforehand. Every member of the family must know where to go when a tornado strikes. Avoid rooms that are upstairs, as you can get trapped in them. Make sure you have aid kits, crowbars, fire extinguishers or other special equipment around the house that you can make use of.
Here is a list of essentials you should make sure you have before a tornado strikes:
Gauze, antibiotic wipes, pain relievers, bandages, a broad-spectrum antibiotic, necessary prescriptions, adhesive tape, diarrhea medicine, a bar of soap
Food and Water
1 gallon (4 liters) for each person in the house, canned goods, cracker packs, and other non-perishables
Scissors, writing materials, flashlights, battery-operated radio, extra batteries, pocket knife, plastic bags, needle and thread
Make sure you know how to turn off the gas in your house. The thing is that gas pipes can crack under pressure and it can lead to gas leak. Such a thing is super dangerous. So, if you smell gas, please switch off the utilities to protect the house from catching fire.
Prevent damage by cleaning out the potentially dangerous debris. Get rid of anything that can be wiped out at hundreds of miles per hour, and this includes dead tree branches, decorations, lawn chairs and/or tables. Here is what you can do:
1. Cut away dead or damaged tree branches that could be ripped off in high winds.
2. Tie down or secure lawn furniture if you have time. If that’s not possible, take them indoors.
3. Keep your lawn free of anything that could turn into a weapon.
Try building up a tornado shelter. This could come quite handy if you live in an area that is repeatedly affected by tornadoes. Trust me, it will be worth it. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has produced a guide to building a shelter yourself as well.
The most important step of them all is to stay calm and not freak out. Stress and panic can cause you to not be able t th8ink clearly and that is the last thing you need when a tornado strikes. Remember, this too shall pass.
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