For those who’ve experienced it, a Tornado is one a terrifying disaster that commonly occurs. Since I grew up in Central Illinois, pretty much every spring we expected that some nearby town would see that funnel cloud. As a child, I went through several anxious nights, though luckily only endured two actual twisters. Unlike other forms of natural disasters, tornadoes are relatively short in their duration, though the chaos that they create commonly obliterates entire neighborhoods within minutes. Below is a picture of Mayflower, Arkansas after it was hit by an F-4 tornado on April 27, 2014.
If you live in tornado alley, then at some point you will likely be in the path of one of these storms. If you don’t, then it is still wise to be prepared. A tornado can happen anywhere, regardless if they are common to your region. Here are a few tips that can help keep your family safe as well as to return to a normal life as quickly as possible.
Make sure that you have appropriate property insurance to cover yourself in the event that you lose everything. Though many people believe that simply having home or renter’s insurance is enough, you are likely to be in for an unpleasant surprise in the event that you lose everything.
In order to get the maximum value, you should schedule all of your property on your policy. This will let the insurance company know the exact amount that they need to pay. Also, make sure that your policy covers for the “Replacement Value,” of your property rather than the “Cash Value.”
Replacement means that the insurance company must provide enough money to buy brand new items while cash value means that they must only give you what they are worth. Insurance companies often use depreciation in order to mitigate anything they have to pay, but if you ensure that you are covered for replacement cost, they will have to build you a brand new house in the event of a tornado rather than just cut you a check.
Start by collecting essentials like bottled water, non-perishable food (MRE’s are a great option), flashlights, medical supplies, and pretty much anything else that would be useful. Tornados regularly topple entire structures and it is possible that you will have last a few days to a week waiting for rescue parties to come and find you. By being prepared you will be set to survive in the aftermath of even the worst storms. Ready Kit has a great list of basic items to include in your emergency kit.
Another key step in preparing for a tornado is to have a common plan for everyone in your household. You should organize where you should go, and how you can communicate with those who are not in the house during a tornado. Often, there will be no power and damaged cell phone towers, so setting a meet-up point is one of the best ways to r-establish communications.
Once you find yourself in the middle of a bad storm, it is important to stay informed. As long as you have power, watch or listen to emergency broadcasts. Life Hacker has a post on the best emergency radios, which can help inform you how to maintain awareness in case all else fails. If your area is under a tornado watch that means that the storm has conditions that could possibly create a funnel cloud though one has not been sighted. A tornado warning means that a funnel cloud has been sighted in the immediate area. If this is broadcasted, you need to move to your designated area immediately.
It is wise to wait out the storm in the safety of an underground basement or in an interior room. Most of the injuries caused by tornado come from debris flying through the air. Shattered windows can lacerate those who are nearby, so make sure that there is no glass near you during the storm.
A second tip is to cover your family with mattresses in order to provide protection from anything that could whip through the air. Aside from debris, if the structural integrity of your home is compromised then the mattresses can provide a small amount of support to mitigate any injuries that can occur.
Though it may seem like a storm has passed, do not leave your protection for at least an hour once things have calmed down. The supercells that create tornados often create multiple funnel clouds and it is possible to get hit in waves. Another big danger is downed power lines. If you are not careful, you can get electrocuted if you approach a wire that has been damaged. The safest option is to stay put until rescue workers come and find you. They will be able to transport you without being in the danger of downed power lines.