*Tornado Safety Warnings*
By: RedDog
07 March 2005

Its almost spring again and that means that severe weather can't be far away. Actually, severe weather and Tornadoes can occur during any month of the year, so don't be fooled into thinking that it can't happen right now.

As a Storm Spotter here in Oklahoma, I go through yearly training, to help keep me safe and sharp when it comes to being around Tornadoes.

One thing that we really want everyone to remember about Tornadoes is that most people are killed because of flying debris hitting them.

This sounds funny, but if you are going to be in a Tornado and you have a helmet, PUT IT ON! You might think you look silly, but it can prevent head injuries.

If you are out in your vehicle when a Tornado is near you, do not try to outrun the Tornado. They can travel very fast at times. If you do have time, drive perpendicular to the Tornado's path, to the South if at all possible. This will take you away from the worst of the Tornadoes fury.

Another myth that I would like to get rid of is the "Get under a Bridge Myth". It is NOT SAFE to get up under an overpass to escape from a Tornado. Many have seen a video of a family with children, or a news crew, that got up under an overpass right as a Tornado went over them (it was only an F-0). They were very lucky. The winds formed by a Tornado, even an F-0 can be multiplied by the structure and the wind force underneath, can actually be greatly increased over what the same Tornado would be out in open ground.

During the May 3rd F-5+ Tornado that hit Moore Oklahoma, many people knew the Tornado was coming and left their homes to go TO an underpass! They all bunched up under the underpass, their cars causing major road blockages and many of them died.

I saw photos of more than one underpass where the mud thrown around by the Tornado "painted" the concrete under the roadways. You could see the stencils that the people who had been standing there left, holding on for dear life, as the mud hit them. That was right before they were torn out from under the overpass and thrown hundreds of yards away. Many of the deaths that occurred that day were from THESE people that were under the highways.

It's just not safe folks, so don't do it.

If you do find yourself out in your vehicles and you can not get away, get out of your vehicle and lie down in the ditch next to the roadway. Lie face down and cover your head with your arms. Get as flat as you possibly can.

The best thing, is to always know what your "potential" for a Tornadic Outbreak is, and take the necessary precautions. Try to avoid having to be out during these storms. Have a Tornado plan in place. Know where you will go if a Tornado is heading your way. Have a battery powered radio and flashlights with you. Stay calm and you'll do fine.

If you are home and don't have a Tornado shelter, get to the center portion of your home in a small room without any windows. A small hall is ok, but close all the doors to all the rooms. Pile all the pillows and blankets around you and hunker down. Make sure you HAVE YOUR SHOES ON because there will be lots of broken glass and debris that you may have to walk through after everything is over with. Have your Cell Phone with you, but the towers could be down.

Have a family plan ready with a place that everyone will meet at, after such a thing. Having a relative or friend OUTSIDE your area that everyone could call to relay that they are ok is a good thing.

These are good disaster plans that can be used for Tornadoes, Flooding, Hurricanes, etc...

I hope that none of us ever have a Tornado that hits your home, but please remember to take the proper precautions and have your plan ready BEFORE it hits. Maybe some of these tips will be remembered and will help you. I hope so.

For more information from the national weather service, see This PDF article from NOAA (Approx 1.7 megs).
Red Dog

All materials at this site not otherwise credited are Copyright 1996 - 2005 Trip Williams. All rights reserved. May be reproduced for personal use only. Use of any material contained herein is subject to stated terms or written permission.