The United States experiences more tornadoes than any other country in the world. Approximately 1,200 tornadoes are recorded annually. That’s about four times as many as in Europe.
Most U.S. tornadoes occur east of the Rocky Mountains. Especially vulnerable is the southern portion of the country, the Midwest, the Mississippi Valley and the Great Plains.
States that experience some of the worst tornadoes are Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas. It’s no coincidence that the creators of The Wizard of Oz chose Kansas as Dorothy’s home.
Tornadoes can occur any time of the year. In fact, a tornado ripped through Wisconsin during the month of January a few years back. But March through June is considered “tornado season” in the U.S.
Before, During & and After
On average, tornadoes result in 80 deaths annually in the U.S. A number of tornadoes have already caused fatalities and considerable damage in Alabama and surrounding states in 2019.
Unlike some storms such as hurricanes, tornadoes can come on quickly with little warning. There’s often very little time for people to take shelter.
But there are plenty of things you can do in advance to be ready for the next one.
And you can know ahead of time exactly which course of action to take when one of these violent storms approaches.
First and foremost – and this applies to any potential weather-related disaster – you should make sure to have an emergency response plan in place, just in case a tornado warning is issued. Whether you are at home or at the office, everyone should be aware of exactly what to do and where to take shelter.
In addition, you should…
- Make sure your homeowners insurance is up to date and that it covers extreme weather damage.
- Have bug-out bags ready near the front door for each member of the family.
- Have at least 72 hours’ worth of non-perishable food and water stockpiled.
- Learn where the nearest shelters are located in case you need to bug out and don’t have anywhere else to go.
- Have your flashlights and extra batteries ready to grab.
- Have an emergency, hand-crank radio.
- Know how to safely shut off your home’s gas line, electricity and water line.
- Keep your vehicle’s gas tank as full as possible at all times.
While It’s Occurring
You might be able to defend yourself from a home invader or an attacker on the street, but it’s absolutely impossible to defend yourself against a tornado. No amount of preparation will enable you to stand up to one of nature’s most furious foes.
Your best bet when a tornado strikes is to attempt to put yourself in the best possible position to avoid the storm.
If conditions are right for a tornado to develop, a tornado watch will be issued and it’s wise to pay very close attention to your surroundings. If a tornado warning is proclaimed, that means a tornado has been spotted in your area and you should seek shelter immediately.
As soon as possible, tune into emergency radio communicated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Their reports will always be slightly ahead of mainstream media reports.
Offering five steps to take during a tornado is www.Ready.gov. They are:
- If you’re indoors, get to a basement, storm cellar or the lowest level of a building. Stay away from windows, doors, corners of buildings and outside walls.
- If you’re indoors but can’t get to a lower level, find the smallest interior room or hallway as far from the exterior of the building as possible.
- If you’re driving, try to head to the closest structure where you can take shelter.
- If you’re driving but can’t get to a shelter, get out of the car and lie face down with your hands over your head in a ditch or other lower level near the roadway but away from vehicles.
- If you’re driving and you see a tornado, don’t try to outrun it. Pull over immediately and seek shelter. Avoid overpasses, bridges, tall buildings and flying debris.
Once a tornado passes, you may not be out of the woods yet. Most people who suffer post-tornado injuries get hurt while trying to clean up debris, including glass and nails.
Also keep an eye out for downed power lines, ruptured gas lines and damaged structures.
Tornadoes are horrific storms that can cause massive amounts of damage, injuries and deaths in a matter of a few minutes.
Give your family members and yourself the best chance to survive by taking precautions and knowing what to do when a tornado is heading your way.