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Preparing for a Tornado

The path of a tornado can be up to 50 miles long when it is finally over. Because tornadoes can spring up quickly, it’s good to have a plan in place to protect yourself and your family in the event a tornado touches down in your area.

Preparedness Plan and Safe Place

Have an emergency plan in place with your family before a tornado strikes. A key part of this plan is where to go. A neighborhood tornado shelter can be the safest place. If no shelter exists and you are in your home, go to the middle of your home, on the lowest possible level - preferably below ground level. Choose a room with no windows, and one that has as many walls between you and the outside as possible. It’s best to be under something heavy, such as a table. Have some food, water, comfort, communication, and entertainment for the time you will be staying in your safe place. Consider storing your preparedness kit in your safe room or have it ready to go if you plan to get to a shelter.

Know What’s Coming

A radio with NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather alert is one of the best ways to get an early warning of a Tornado. It will sound a loud tone and then play the warning details when one is issued by the weather service. COnsider having an A/C-powered model that you can leave on all the time. Have a battery or crank-operated model that you can take to your designated shelter or safe area. The first level of warning is a Tornado Watch. This tells you that the weather conditions are right for a tornado to form. You should check to make sure your supplies and in place. A Tornado Warning implies that a tornado has been sighted. At this point, you should shelter immediately.

Medical Needs

Destruction from a tornado is devastating, but mostly limited to its immediate path. So food, supplies, and temporary shelter are usually available from a nearby area that is unaffected. However, emergency services can be overwhelmed in the immediate aftermath.Most tornado injuries are caused by flying debris. Have a way to stop bleeding or stabilize a broken bone. It will take more than a first aid kit. Consider having an emergency medical kit in your home or office.

Dealing With Debris

Many people could be trapped or injured. Have tools for prying and sawing in case you have to clear debris to free someone. You can take a local CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) class to learn how to assist in search and rescue. Of course, you should have a way to signal for help if you are trapped. Something as simple as a whistle with a lanyard to wear around your neck could save your life. Basic body protection is essential. A respirator mask filters our airborne debris. Protective eyewear is also important because of what will still be blowing around. Work gloves let you work quickly and safely.

Home Inventory

Make sure to take a home inventory. This will be critical in the event of a insurance claim. You can take photos or a video to store in your 72-hour kit so that it will come with you. There are also services that will store your information safely on the internet, where it can be easily retrieved or forwarded to insurers.

Being prepared when a tornado strikes can make a huge difference both, during and after the event.