tornado in the sky

Photo Credit: Eduardo Leite/istock

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In order to survive a tornado, the most important rule is to "Get Low." Find the lowest, strongest place possible. If you can, rush to your basement. If you don’t have a basement, go to a storm shelter or a neighbor’s basement or the very lowest level of your home. Here’s the theory: Seek refuge in the center of the structure and put as many walls between you and the wind as possible, and avoid corners, windows and doors.

Other things you can do to increase your chances of survival in a tornado include:
  • Get Sturdy: Get under a strong table and protect your head and neck with your arms.
  • Get Closed: Do not open windows.
  • Get Dressed: Make sure you are clothed with shoes. It may be hard to find such things after the storm, and you will have to walk through debris.
  • Get Inside: If you’re in your car, seek stronger shelter. Do not get under an overpass or bridge; you’re better off in a low, flat location.

If you are at home during a tornado, go at once to your predetermined shelter (the basement, storm cellar, or the lowest level of the building). Stay there until the danger has passed. If there is no basement, go to an inner hallway or a small inner room without windows, such as a bathroom or closet.

However much you want to see the storm, stay away from all windows, doors, and outside walls. Go directly to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they tend to attract debris. Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench or heavy table and hold on to it for all you're worth. Other helpful tips include:
  • Use sofa cushions or your arms to protect your head and neck
  • If in a mobile home, get out and seek shelter elsewhere. A mobile home can overturn very easily even if precautions have been taken to tie down the unit. If there isn't a substantial shelter nearby, seek shelter in a low-lying area. Use your arms to protect your head and neck.
  • In a Public Building (School, Hospital, Factory, Shopping Center, etc.)
  • Go to the basement or to an inside hallway, a small, interior room, or a bathroom or closet on the lowest possible level.
  • Avoid places with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums, cafeterias, gymnasiums, and large hallways.
  • Stay away from windows and open spaces.
  • Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench or heavy table or desk and hold on to it.

If you are outdoors during a tornado, it's important to seek shelter. If possible, get inside a substantial building. If shelter is not available or there is no time to get indoors, lie in a ditch, culvert, or low-lying area or crouch near a strong building. Use your arms to protect your head and neck. Be alert for potential flash flooding.

If you are in a vehicle during a tornado, don't try to outrun the tornado in your vehicle. Heavy rain, hail, and traffic may impede your movement, and tornadoes can travel as quickly as 70mph over dry land. Tornadoes can quickly change directions, and can easily lift up a vehicle and toss it through the air. Pull to the side of the road avoiding trees, power lines and other objects that could fall or be hazardous. Get out of the vehicle immediately and try to take shelter in a nearby building. If there isn't time to get indoors, get out of the vehicle and lie in a ditch, culvert, or low-lying area away from the vehicle. Use your arms to protect your head and neck.
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