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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Surviving A Tornado

Although I currently live in earthquake country, I grew up in the Midwest and thus have experienced both a tornado watch and warning. I remember as a small girl, watching out the window for the tell-tale funnel cloud and having a blanket and one special toy to take with me to the basement. I can remember the frightening excitement you feel when it becomes eerily quiet and you’re scanning the fields for the tornado. Thankfully my family and I went unscathed, but I also remember driving through towns that were devastated by the tornado’s destructive power.

Every state has some risk for tornadoes. We’ve even had one touch down here in Southern California, a strange and unexpected surprise. Often, tornadoes develop suddenly, without much warning. They are more likely to occur between 3 pm - 9 pm, but can strike at anytime. The best way to survive a tornado is be aware of the weather around you, listen for warnings which are sightings of a tornado, and be prepared with a plan prior to the actual emergency.

If you see a funnel, hear a loud roar or notice a large, dark rotating cloud you need to seek shelter immediately. Think about where you can go in your home. A basement is the best, make sure you stay away from windows, sliding doors and any furniture or mirrors that could cause injuries. If you don’t have a basement, but have a small interior room or closet without windows, take shelter there - even the bathroom inside the tub is a good option. If you’re in a mobile home, you’ll need to get out immediately and know where you’re going for shelter. Now is the time to think about your plan, before the disaster strikes.

If you’re in the car when a tornado touches down, exit your car and take shelter in a sturdy building or storm shelter. Your last resort would be to find a ditch or low piece of land and lie down flat. It’s even better if there’s something to hold onto nearby. You may or may not be able to outrun a storm in a vehicle, so it’s imperative you find a place to shelter outside of your car. Flying debris is very dangerous, so always protect your head and neck. Remember tuck and cover? If you live in a tornado prone area, you’re taught in school to tuck into yourself with your head against your knees and your hands covering your neck - if you practice regularly, you never forget these safety drills.

Practice with your kids and make sure they know the safest place to go. Practice this regularly and they won’t forget.

I’m sure you already have stores of food, water and first aid items to help you recover from a devastating tornado. Think about where you keep these stores and if they’d survive a 300 mph tornado wind. Keep items where they’re protected and accessible after the emergency. Remain vigilent during tornado season and be aware of the weather around you. If you prepare now, you’ll know what to do and that could save your life!


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