To many of us, tornadoes might seem like nothing more than a plot device to escort Dorothy into Oz, but they do in fact continue to pose a genuine threat in some areas and lead to hundreds of deaths every year in America alone.
Experts say that the number of deaths per disaster would be massively lowered if more people simply knew how to act when caught in a tornado, so this article will give you all the tips and tricks you need to know in how to survive a tornado.
Prepare for the worst so you can hope for the best
Make sure that you and your loved ones can readily recognize the warning signs of an impending tornado, noticing early signs of one on the horizon can provide you those precious few minutes extra to prepare and get you and your loved ones to safety.
Such signs can often come in the form of thunderstorms, hail, high winds, dust clouds, roaring noises and clouds that appear to be in a wall, green-tinted or seem to be rotating. Keep an eye on the weather reports for early detection too, trust the advice of exerts above all else.
If you are living in a high-risk area then keep yourself and your loved ones prepared with a shared understanding of designated shelter spots in your home and the safest routes to get there, as well as other spots that can safely be used if anyone gets trapped.
Prior to a disaster, stock these safe spaces with the necessary resources such as medications, food, and water.
Staying safe at home
If you are indoors when a tornado hits, the ideal place to wait for it to blow over would be a concrete-reinforced, underground shelter.
However, if you are not lucky enough to house a bunker in your home, then move to a windowless room on the bottom floor that is centrally placed in your house.
A good example is an interior hallway or space under a stairwell which, while potentially not being one of the first places to spring to mind, may end up being one of the best.
Make sure to cover yourself with anything that can protect your head and back from potential debris such as a pillow, mattress, or even a sturdy table.
Lay down on the ground with your face to the floor and cover your head with your hands.
If you can, find a helmet to wear (motorbike or bicycle helmets are ideal) that could protect your skull further from any debris that might make you vulnerable.
How to keep safe behind the wheel
If you’re caught behind the wheel when a tornado hits, then the best thing you can do is to get inside to the nearest building possible.
Fast food restaurants, in particular, are a great choice if you’re near a walk-in fridges can act as a great makeshift shelter.
But if you’re stuck in your vehicle and there is nowhere nearby for you to go then do up your seat belt and get below the window line.
Cover your head and back with any coats or blankets you may have on hand and use your hands to cover your head.
Don’t drive until it’s safe but, if you are on the move, don’t attempt to outrun the tornado and instead follow the expert advice of driving at a 90-degree angle away from the storm as that is afar more effective method.
On the water at the worst time?
If you’re on a boat on open water when a water spurt begins, the best thing you can do is get onto dry land. But if you are firmly stuck on the waves, then move perpendicular to the direction of the tornado rather than straight away from it.
If your boat is about to be directly hit, then your best chances to avoid flying debris may be to jump overboard, but only do so if you are a strong enough swimmer to be able to survive the water itself.
Ignore the wives tales
Mistakes made in a disaster scenario can easily lead to death so it’s crucial you can discern between expert advice and old wives’ tales.
Have you heard that rumor about your house exploding when in the low-pressure eye of a tornado if you don’t open your windows?
Ignore it. It’s not even remotely true. And by opening up your windows and allowing the wind to enter your house, not only are you making it easier for dangerous debris to enter your home, you might even lose your roof in the process for it could actually be lifted up from the rest of the structure.
A popular video in 1991 showed a news crew taking shelter from a tornado under an overpass which led to lots of people following in their lead, a grave mistake that has since led to hundreds of deaths over the years.
Rather than acting as shelters, overpasses instead act like wind tunnels where dangerous debris can fly through, often making them the worst place to wait out a tornado.
Remember that the coast may not always be clear
It sounds like the tornado has passed while you’re taking shelter then don’t immediately get out and have a look for tornadoes can often multiply.
Keep listening to radio stations and weather forecasts if possible and only leave safety when you have been officially advised that the coast is clear.
When you finally step out of your shelter make sure to be careful where you tread as the resulting debris and destruction can bring about its own dangers.
Keep your eye out for flooding, blocked roads, falling debris, electrical concerns, and fires.
Something as simple as fallen power lines paired with nearby puddles could be a massive health risk, so tread carefully.
When dealing with a tornado remember to keep a cool head, find safe shelter, check on your loved ones and follow your common sense.
Not every home will end up blowing away to Oz, and by following these tips and tricks, neither with you.
If you ever need a hand or have a question, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.
All the best,