Tornados may strike quickly with little or no warning. They may appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up or a cloud forms in the funnel. The average tornado moves from Southwest to Northeast, but tornados have been known to move in any direction. The average tornado speed is 30 mph, but may vary from stationary to 70 mph. The bottom line is, tornados are unpredictable.
A well-thought plan prior to a tornado evacuation is the best route to take. Know where to seek shelter. Once you have established a “safe room,” you should stock the room with enough supplies to sustain you being contained there for at least 72 hours if a tornado hits.
Your Safe Room
A basement or storm shelter is your best defense against a tornado. If no basement exists, go to the center of a small interior room (closet, hallway) away from corners, windows, doors and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck.
If you are in a mobile home, get out immediately and find a more secure shelter. Iif you are in your vehicle during a tornado, try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If your vehicle is being pelted by debris, pull over and park. Stay in your car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands, coat, blanket or a cushion if possible. If you can safely get noticeably lower than the roadway, leave your car and lie in that area. DO NOT GET UNDER AN OVERPASS OR BRIDGE. You are much safer in a low, flat location.
What To Store
Once you designate a safe room, you should consider supplying it with neccessities for the short term. It may take some time for a rescue squad to find you and you will need the proper supplies to wait it out.
- Water, one gallon per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation.
- Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both.
- Flashlight and extra batteries.
- First Aid Kit.
- A whistle to signal for help.
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.
- Manual can opener for canned goods.
- Cell phone with chargers.
- Other items you deem neccesary such as prescription medicine, blankets, pet food, paper plates and plastic eating utensils, etc.
For more information, please read Tornado Safety, presented by the American Red Cross.