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Tornados

Look at your house honestly and figure out ahead of time where you are going to stay and what you need to do to make it safe. In tornado country you need a basement, in-ground shelter, or safe room. If you donít have any of these, consider reinforcing a hall or a large closet to make it into a safe room. Make sure everyone knows where the best shelter in the house is and go there whenever there is a tornado warning.

If you have a basement area that can be used for sleeping, set it up so you can camp out there whenever the storms are bad. It is a lot more comfortable to sleep the whole night on a floor in safety, than to get out of bed 4 or 5 times in a night when the watches and warnings are sounded. And donít even think about ignoring a tornado warning. They are getting better at tornado prediction, so donít bet your life that this one is a false alarm.

Remember that you are trying to avoid three things in a tornado: 1) getting sucked up into the tornado itself (Very few people survive the fall back to earth.), 2) being injured by flying debris (It is traveling about 200 miles per hour which is how tornados put straws through telephone poles.) or 3) being crushed by the building you are in when it falls down or is pushed over.

If you are in a trailer, temporary building or other light structure and a tornado is coming, get out. If there is a strong building or storm shelter near by, go to it. If there is no safe shelter available, lie in a ditch or low area away from anything that might fall on you. Stretch out flat on your face and cover your neck with your hands.

Do not stay in a trailer

If you are in a sturdy building, go to the basement or a small interior room. Close doors behind you. Stay away from windows and doors. If you do not have a windowless room, then get in a closet or hallway and close the doors. Lock doors if you can, so they are less likely to come open. If you are in a bathroom with a tub, get in it. If there is no other shelter, crouch up against the wall toward the tornado and cover your head and neck with your arms.

Don't stop to open windows. This wastes precious time and accomplishes nothing. It will not reduce the damage to the house or protect you. Don't think you are going to hold doors or windows shut. Remember that tornados will pick up cars and trucks and whole buildings. No one is strong enough to fight this. Don't think that you are going to hold on to someone or something either. If this may make a difference, then tie people together or to the building. Even a light rope or a belt is stronger than your grip.

If you are in a car, do not try to outrun a tornado. You wonít win the race. Do not go under a highway overpass either. That TV crew that took pictures of a tornado from under an overpass was very lucky. An underpass can create a wind tunnel and suck you out into the storm or kill you with flying debris. Be careful about getting in culverts too. Stay close to the downstream end where you can get out quickly if water begins to rise. If the only opening is upstream, don't go into a drainage pipe. The best thing is to stop, get out, and lie face down in the ditch with your hands covering your neck.

Once the storm has passed, get out of damaged buildings as quickly and safely as possible. Stay close to the building you were in and wait for rescue personnel to find you. Help those near you, but don't wander off. People can get killed trying to rescue someone who isn't in the building. You are more likely to be reunited with your family by staying put than by moving around looking for them.