North Texas was hit by a series of tornados passing through the D/FW metroplex today. We were very fortunate the injuries and loss of property were not more severe or devastating than they were, or comparable to what Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Joplin, Missouri experienced last year.
Most tornados occur in the months of April and May, and after what we experienced today, I thought it would be good to review some tornado safety tips FEMA publishes.
During a tornado
If you are in a structure such as a residence, small building, school, nursing home, hospital, factory, shopping center, high-rise building you should;
- Go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck.
- In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
- If available, put on a bicycle or motorcycle helmet to protect yourself from head injuries.
- Put on sturdy shoes.
- Do not open windows.
If you’re in a trailer or mobile home, you should;
- Get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes.
If you are outside with no shelter, you should;
- Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
- If your vehicle is hit by flying debris while you are driving, pull over and park.
- 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 other cushion if possible.
- If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands
- Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
- Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.
- Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.
After a tornado
If you’re in a building that has been damaged by a tornado, here are a few suggestions from FEMA;
- Check for injuries to those around you.
- Do not attempt to move seriously injured individuals unless they are in immediate danger of further injury (you could hurt them worse).
- Stop a bleeding injury by applying direct pressure to the wound.
- Have any puncture wound evaluated by a physician.
- If you are trapped, try to attract attention to your location.
- Be careful when entering any structure that has been damaged.
- Be aware of hazards from exposed nails and broken glass.
- Do not touch downed power lines or objects in contact with downed lines. Report electrical hazards to the police and utility company.
- Be aware of possible structural, electrical or gas-leak hazards in your home. If you suspect any damage to your home, shut off electrical power, natural gas and propane tanks to avoid fire, electrocution or explosions.
- If it is dark when you are inspecting your home, use a flashlight rather than a candle or torch to avoid the risk of fire or explosion in a damaged home.
- If you see frayed wiring or sparks, or if there is an odor of something burning, you should immediately shut off the electrical system at the main circuit breaker if you have not done so already.
- If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open all windows and leave the house immediately. Notify the gas company, the police or fire departments and do not turn on the lights, light matches, smoke or do anything that could cause a spark. Do not return to your house until you are told it is safe to do so.
My last suggestion is that during a time like this, be grateful if you weren’t affected, learn what you can do to enhance your opportunity for survival and let’s reach out to our neighbors who were affected. If you have any suggestions you’d like to share, please do. We can all benefit!