Check These Tornado Precautions

Check These Tornado Precautions

Spring is tornado season in the Midwest but did you know that tornadoes have been reported in every state and they can occur at any time of the year?

When you hear that a National Weather Service WATCH is in effect, it means conditions are right for a tornado. Changing weather such as thunderstorms should put you on guard. A WARNING means a tornado has been spotted.

*Turn on phone alerts - Those emergency alerts on your phone are loud and annoying, but, during tornado season, they save lives. Meteorologists saw an example of this in 2015 when a tornado, completely unforecasted, hit in the middle of the night near Charleston, South Carolina. The tornado demolished dozens of homes, yet there were no deaths because people had their alerts on.

*Have a flashlight handy - When severe weather is forecast, take a moment to locate some emergency items. While your phone can provide light, a flashlight will preserve your phone charge. Charge up a backup power source for your phone. Get a couple of plastic bags to protect cell phones from water. If you are going into an on-site shelter, make sure there is drinking water.

*Emergency shelter - Stay away from windows and don't open them. If you hear a tornado approaching, get under a workbench or sturdy table. Protect your head and neck.

*In a car - You may have read that, if a tornado is coming at you, get out of the car and lie in a ditch.

That might work. Or not. In one recent tornado, rescuers found the twisted remains of a car but could not find the people. After a week, their bodies were found in a ditch, covered with two feet of debris.

There is only one way to improve your odds if you are in a car during tornadic storms. Take the bad weather seriously early on, and get to a sturdy building. Think ahead. Don't wait.

*Do not shelter under an overpass or bridge A bridge overpass might look like a sturdy place to shelter, but it absolutely is not. An overpass with all that sturdy concrete, in fact, tends to funnel winds. The overpass will not protect a human. Never climb to the top corner of an overpass. While it may appear the area is shelter, in truth, there will be no cover on the sides. Worse, there are no hand holds. Overpasses actually tend to funnel wind under and up to the bottom of the overpass. So the wind will actually be worse. Those who have tried sheltering in overpasses, if they weren't killed, suffered horrific injuries, with limbs torn off and skin mangled by debris. An overpass is no shelter at all, ever.

A bridge or overpass also will not protect a car and does not make a car a better place to shelter. Cars parked under a bridge also block traffic and prevent others from seeking shelter.

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