Each year, during April, May, June, and July, the United States experiences tornado season. While tornadoes can form at any time of the year, in any state of the US, tornado season most readily affects “tornado alley.” Typically, “tornado alley” is defined as the region between the Rocky and Appalachian mountains.
So, if you’re living in this region, it’s especially important to be prepared for a potential disaster. Here are a few tips to help you before, during and after a tornado:
Before: Know The Level of Risk
First, you should determine if you live in an area at high risk for tornadoes. Purchase a weather radio, and make sure you are familiar with these weather alerts:
- Advisory: issued when there are special weather conditions, but they are not serious enough to require a warning. Advisories are for events where caution is necessary, as conditions could cause a significant inconvenience.
- Watch: used when the risk of hazardous weather is likely to occur, but its timing and/or location is uncertain.
- Warning: issued when hazardous weather, that may pose a threat to life or property, is imminent.
During: Protect Yourself
- At home: Once a warning is issued, you need to take cover. Head to the lowest level of the building you are in (preferably the basement) and steer clear of windows. If you don’t have a basement, go to an inner hallway, bathroom or closet. If possible, grab blankets or a mattress to place over your head.
- At work or school: Similar to being at home, make sure you head to the lowest-level of the building and avoid windows. Some building will have safe zones in bathrooms or doorways. Wherever you are, remember to always use your arms to protect your head and neck.
- In the car: If possible, immediately take shelter in a nearby building. If there’s not time to get indoors, get away from the car and lie in a ditch or low-lying area. However, do be aware of the risk for flooding.
After: Look and Listen
Even though a tornado may last only a few minutes, it can be devastating. However, if you remain calm you can make the recovery effort quick, easy and safe.
- Listen: Local officials, television news stations and emergency management personnel will provide instructions. Listen to what they have to say and comply with their requests.
- Look: Use a flashlight to inspect damage. If you see signs of sparks, turn off the electricity. Check for gas leaks and turn off the valves to avoid further damage. Be sure to avoid any downed power lines or loose debris.
Tornadoes are quick and their path is often unpredictable. This makes it imperative that you prepare ahead of time. Be safe. Start now.