The National Weather Service announced on Thursday, April 24th, that conditions point to a significant multi-day severe weather event for Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia. Unlike last year, we’ve had a pretty quiet tornado season which occurs mostly during the months of April and May. All that could change if the weather models meteorologists are using turn out to be accurate.
The factors concerning meteorologists about this weekend are a low pressure system heading this way from the Rockies and a lot of moist air from the Gulf of Mexico. These two elements are the ingredients which lead to the formation of supercell thunderstorms that can carry large hail and tornados.
This is a great time to review some tornado survival tips FEMA publishes considering the forecast for this weekend and the fact that we have 5 more weeks of tornado season.
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.
People in a mobile home or trailer 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.
Anyone caught outside with no shelter 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, FEMA suggests:
- 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.
If you have any additional suggestions, experiences, or questions, share them with us in the comments section of our blog or on our Facebook and Google + pages. I’d love to hear from you!