Tornados - Disaster Control

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Anytime a forecast includes the term 'thunderstorms' a tornado can happen. If the temp is above 70° and there is an active thunderstorm, it doesn't take much for it to rotate, and rotating equals BAD.

You don't have to be an experienced storm chaser to notice wind speed changes and sudden shifts in wind direction. These things happen in front of a storm and can be very helpful in ascertaining the speed, direction, and ferocity of the incoming storm.


A. Thunderstorm Watch is just what it says. Conditions are ripe for a thunderstorm to form.

B. Thunderstorm WARNING. This means a thunderstorm is occurring and is headed in your direction. A Severe Thunderstorm IS capable of producing a tornado in as little as three minutes.

C. Tornado Watch. Forecasters make note of weather systems in the area, calculate when these forces will combine, factor in the humidity and temperature shifts i (+/- 5° is sometimes all it takes) and put out a 'watch' to let you know to keep an eye out. Typically a 'watch' translates into 50/50 chance of the event happening. On days like this it is imperative that you keep up with changing weather conditions.

D. Tornado Warning. This will set off your weather radio and your text alerts. Warnings generally take between 15-30 seconds at full length.


1. A 'DOPPLER INDICATED TORNADO IS IN YOUR AREA' this means a Meteorologist has spotted a radar 'signature' and possibly a 'debris reflection' in the radar screen. Typically you will hear the term "HOOK ECHO". Pay very close attention to WHERE that 'hook' is located. This means that wherever that hook is, there is a 90% chance a tornado is on the ground destroying everything in its path. At that time the Meteorologist will likely issue a TORNADO EMERGENCY for that immediate area. If you are within 5-10 miles of that area, you MUST take shelter IMMEDIATELY, your time has run out and if you do not take cover you WILL be seriously injured or killed.

2. A "LAW ENFORCEMENT OR TRAINED STORM SPOTTER" is exactly what you think, a Police Officer, Ambulance, Fire Personnel, or a trained Storm Spotter is actively watching a tornado on the ground. In this case as well, the announcer will advise you on where the tornado currently is by using cross streets, neighborhood names, and landmarks...anything they can so you can put a perspective on it. Either way, TAKE SHELTER IMMEDIATELY. Again, the Meteorologist will likely issue a TORNADO EMERGENCY, and if you don't act right then, it will not go well for you.


Family Communication Plan:
Complete a Contact Card for Every Member of the Family:
Have an out of town friend or family member serve as your point of contact (POC).  This person will answer calls from other friends or family member.  If you are separated from your family each person can call the POC and they can help coordinate to get everyone safely together.

  • Know your emergency plan at work:
  • Develop a plan for commuting between work and home:
  • Know the plans for your childrens school or daycare:
    • How will they communicate with parents?
    • Do they have a shelter in place plan?
    • Do they have adequate supplies to shelter in place?  Food? Water?  First Aid?
    • What is their evacuation plan should they need to leave?
    • Where will they go?
    • How will they get there?

After the Tornado:

You find yourself in a tornado
You have sought shelter
The Tornado has passed

DO NOT just get up and start walking around
Be still and let the noise level lower. 
Your ears will be ringing loudly and you will be somewhat disoriented. 
Try to take a breath and collect yourself. 
Check for bleeding - make sure you are ok before you try to transverse debris. 

If you are ok:
Look around you. 
Make sure you can safely get up and out
Look for downed power lines, jagged wood, glass, nails
Note where you smell Natural Gas. 

Formulate a plan to get to a safe place
The middle of the street is usually a favorable choice. 
Help should arrive shortly, in the meantime, recheck yourself. 
You will be shaking and scared 
Note any injuries.
If you feel confident enough help your neighbors, co-workers, whoever you see. 

If you are NOT ok or you are trapped:
Try to stay calm as much as can reasonably be expected. 
Use your voice sparingly - if you have yelled and you don't hear a response or the sounds of people walking, save your breath.
If you keep your wits about you and conserve your energy, you will have a far better outcome. 
Listen for the telltale signs of people, then let loose. 
The survival rate of even the strongest storms America is hit by every year, gets higher and higher. 
We learn and pass information to each other! It’s as simple as that.


In a house with a basement: 
Avoid windows. Get in the basement and under some kind of sturdy protection.
Cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag.
Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above and avoid that area as they may fall through the floor.
Head protection, such as a helmet, if you have it.

In a house with no basement, a dorm, or an apartment: 
Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. 
Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down
Cover your head with your hands. 
A bath tub may offer some partial protection. 
Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding like a mattress or blankets to protect against falling debris.
A helmet can offer some protection against head injury, if you have it.

In an office building, hospital, nursing home or skyscraper:
Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building, far away from glass and on the lowest floor possible.
Crouch down and cover your head
Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter, and will allow you to get to a lower level quickly. 
Stay off the elevators, you could be trapped in them if the power is lost.

In a mobile home:
Get out! Even if your home is tied down, it is not safe.
Go to an underground shelter or a nearby permanent structure.
Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes.

At school:
Follow the drill! 
Go to the interior hall or windowless room in an orderly way as you are told. 
Crouch low, head down, and protect the back of your head with your arms. 
Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.

In a car or truck:
Vehicles are extremely risky in a tornado. 
There is no safe option when caught in a tornado in a car.
If the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, you may try to drive out of its path.  The key is to move at right angles to the tornado.
Seek shelter in a sturdy building, or underground if possible. 
If you can't out run it and can't get to shelter and are caught by extreme winds or flying debris:
Park the car out of the driving lanes.
Stay in the car with the seat belt on. 
Put your head down below the windows.
Cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat or material.
If you can safely get to somewhere lower than the roadway, like a ditch, get there.
Lie down as flat as possible.
Cover your head with your hands, a coat or blanket.
Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, they can funnel the winds, offer little protection against debris and could cause serious traffic hazards..

In the open outdoors:
Seek shelter in a sturdy building. 
If shelter is not an option, lie flat and face-down on low ground.
Protect the back of your head with your arms. 
Get as far away from trees and cars as you can, they are debris if a tornado crosses.

In a shopping mall or large store: 
Do not panic. 
Watch for others. 
Follow security directions.
Move as quickly as possible to an interior bathroom, storage room or other small enclosed area.

In a church or theater: 
Do not panic. 
Move quickly but orderly to an interior bathroom or hallway.
Crouch face-down and protect your head with your arms. 
If there is no time to move, get under the seats or pews, protecting your head with your arms or hands.
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