A tornado is a vortex of wind rotating in a funnel-shaped cloud stretching from the sky to the touch down point on the ground.
These weather events are rated on the Fujita scale with wind velocity ranges from 40 miles per hour to over 300 miles per hour.
The Fujita Scale
- F0 40-72 mph winds causing light damage
- F1 73-112 mph winds causing moderate damage
- F2 113-157 mph winds causing significant damage
- F3 158-206 mph winds causing severe damage
- F4 207-260 mph winds causing devastating damage
- F5 261-318 mph winds causing incredible damage.
A tornado can destroy anything in its path from houses and buildings to trees in the forest.
The majority of the tornados seen are F0 and F1’s which have a damage path of 35 to 500 ft. in width. The most severe F5 is seen less than .1 percent of the time and leaves a damage path of 3600 ft. in width.
How to Prepare for a Tornado
Today I want to discuss how to survive a tornado.
Imagine a funnel of wind spinning at over 300 miles per hour creating such power you cannot stand up against, so what do you do?
If you live in the area known as tornado alley, you are more likely to experience a tornado, but this does not mean that they are confined to this area only that there is a higher probability of a tornadic event in this particular area.
Considering safety, we will now discuss the purpose of a good storm shelter.
Storm shelters are made to withstand the power of a tornado and protect you and your loved ones from nature’s fury.
An underground shelter is the safest place to be in a tornado but there are also some reinforced concrete shelters that can be installed in your home for your protection.
These concrete safe rooms are made of 6 inch thick reinforced concrete with a steel door and contain enough room for your family as well as the family pets and a few important belongings.
Survival Inside Depends on Getting to a Safe Location Quickly
If you are in a home that has no safe room or basement, what do you do?
There are many people who find themselves in a situation like this.
You want to move to the interior of the home creating a boundary by putting as many walls between you and the outside as you possible.
An interior closet or bathroom is usually the best place to seek cover.
One of the largest dangers of a tornado is flying debris such as two by four’s ripped out and flung across the room which is about like getting hit with a baseball bat.
Think about all of the items you have in your home, now imagine them as deadly projectiles hurling through the air at 100 or more miles per hour.
It is imperative that you protect yourself and family from this deadly threat.
A motorcycle helmet or batting helmet would be ideal in this situation and you can use a mattress or thick pillows to protect your body from the flying debris.
Vehicles Present a Different Type of Safety Challenge
What if you are out driving and are unlucky enough to cross the path of a tornado?
There are some myths about how to survive this situation which I will now reveal to you and explain how to survive the tornado in a vehicle.
One myth is to seek shelter under a highway overpass but there is no protection making this is a really bad idea.
The concrete overpass will act as a funnel and create a higher probability of being injured as the wind speed increases and hurls deadly projectiles through the air.
How about trying to outrun the tornado?
I have a fast car I will just drive fast and get away.
The best way to get away from a tornado while driving is to pick a path that is 90 degrees off from the path the tornado is traveling.
Drive to a restaurant or gas station if possible and seek shelter in the large walk in freezers with thick insulated walls that will provide some protection.
When you are faced with a situation where you cannot get away from the path and the tornado is closing in, do not stay in your vehicle.
Exit the vehicle and find a culvert or a ditch. Any low lying area is better than staying in your vehicle which will likely become a flying car when the tornado passes over it.
Caught out in the open can be a terrifying experience if you are not prepared.
I am out at the park or walking on the bike path and the storm hits.
What should I do to survive?
Look around you and see if there are any structures or buildings you can seek shelter in.
If there are no structures look for a culvert or ditch and lie face down with your arms covering your head.
Do not look up at the tornado as this will increase your chances of significant injury from flying objects.
Preparation is the key to a quick reaction and staying safe.
Let’s talk about how to prepare for a tornado. Yes, we can do some things to make sure we are ready to react to a situation if we find ourselves in one.
- Develop a plan of action
- Keep an eye on tornado watches and warnings
- Choose multiple safe locations
- Assemble emergency medical kits
- Water and non-perishable food
- Know how to shut off gas and waterlines
- Practice the plan with young children
- Stay inside until the danger has passed
- Exit slowly and make sure area around you is safe
There are many places you may be when you see inclement weather approaching.
The most important survival point is to make sure you are staying informed and keeping an assessment of your surroundings always look for the best options.
The difference between life and death may be that few extra minutes of time you have because you signed up for the weather channel updates.
Remember to think before you act, rushing into danger is not the best method of surviving.
Tornados are often accompanied by damaging hail and lightning strikes. Be aware of what dangers the additional factors can create.
Remember the safest places to be when a tornado strikes. Keep your head and make smart choices and you will be able to survive a tornado.