With all the crazy shifts in the weather this year, it is already turning out to be an active tornado season. Here are some tips to help you stay safe.
Get a free warning app. Many people who have survived tornadoes say that they didn’t hear the sirens until it was too late. Tornados often pop up in the middle of the night while everyone is sleeping. The American Red Cross has a free Tornado Warning and Alert App for iPhone or Android with a siren that goes off whenever the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning. If you live in an area where tornados are prevalent, your local TV stations may have similar apps.
Sign up for “Notify.” If you don’t have an iPhone or Android, The Weather Channel has a service called Notify that will call you in the event of a tornado warning. There’s a fee of $6.99 per month, but you get a 50% discount if you pay for it annually.
Take cover. Most injuries from tornadoes are from flying debris, so you’ll want to put as many walls between yourself and the outside walls of your house as possible. If you have a basement, go there, but stay away from windows. If there are windowless rooms in the interior portion of your basement, go to one of those. If you do not have a basement (or you are in a building other than your home), find a first-floor closet or first-floor interior room with no windows.
Get out of your car. Your car is not fast enough to outrun a tornado, so don’t even try. If you see a tornado and you’re in your car, pull over, get out and lie flat in the nearest ditch or the lowest area of ground you can find. Do not attempt to hide under an overpass. You want to be as low to the ground as possible.
Evacuate your mobile home. Advance planning can help you stay safe in a tornado. If you live in a mobile home, find a nearby shelter or plan to stay with a friend who has a basement. If there’s no time to get to a shelter, leave your home and take cover in the nearest ditch or ravine.
Cover your head. No matter where you are when a tornado strikes, it’s important to protect your head. If you’re indoors, hide under something sturdy and use a mattress, pillows, sleeping bag, helmet or whatever else you can find to cover your head. If you’re outdoors, cover your head with your hands if there’s nothing else available.