Severe Weather Awareness Week: Tornadoes 20 Apr 12

Severe Weather Awareness Week: TornadoesWhat to Do During a Tornado

When at home during a tornado remember to avoid windows. Get in the basement and under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag. Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) and do not go under them. They may fall down through a weakened floor and crush you.

If a basement is not available you should again, avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor into a small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. A bath tub may offer a shell of partial protection. Even in an interior room, you should try to cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris and glass.

If you are at work or in another building away from home go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building — away from glass and on the lowest floor possible. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter, and if not crowded, allow you to get to a lower level quickly. Stay off the elevators; you could become trapped if the power is lost.

For mobile homes, remember to get out as quickly as possible! If your community has a tornado shelter, go there fast. Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes. If there is a sturdy permanent building within easy running distance, seek shelter there. Otherwise, lie flat on low ground away from your home, protecting your head. If possible, use open ground away from trees and cars, which can be blown onto you.

If at school, “Follow the drill!” Go to the interior hall or room in an orderly way as you are told. Crouch low, head down, and protect the back of your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.

Vehicles are extremely dangerous in a tornado. If the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Otherwise, park the car as quickly and safely as possible — out of the traffic lanes. Get out and seek shelter in a sturdy building. If in the open country, run to low ground away from any cars (which may roll over on you). Lie flat and face-down, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.

If you’re in a shopping mall, church or theatre move as quickly as possible to an interior bathroom, storage room or other small enclosed area, away from windows. Crouch face-down and protect your head with your arms. If there is no time to do that, get under the seats or pews, protecting your head with your arms or hands.

Do not panic under any of the above circumstances. Stay aware of the weather conditions and plan accordingly.