Are you prepared if a tornado hits? Most of the time, you can get away with just some minor damage from a tornado, and you can generally be really safe in the basement. However, sometimes tornadoes can be catastrophic no matter how well you try to prepare. You could be stuck in your basement for days. So, how can you be prepared for a tornado? Follow this guide below:
- What is a Tornado
- Tornado Warnings Vs Watches
- How Can You Be Prepared for a Tornado Beforehand
- Things to have stocked in your basement
- What to Do During the Storm
- Facts About Tornadoes
How Can You Be Prepared for a Tornado
Tornadoes come much faster than a hurricane. With a hurricane you know it’s coming days to weeks before. But, with a tornado, you may have a couple of hours, if that. This is why it is important to be prepared for a tornado long before it gets here! To do this, it is important to know everything you can.
What is a Tornado
A tornado is a violently rotating funnel of air that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground. It is produced when cool air overrides a layer of warm air. This forces the warm air to rise quickly. Tornados are capable of destroying large buildings, uprooting trees, and hurling vehicles hundreds of yards away. They can even drive straw pieces straight into a tree. The most violent tornadoes can have speeds of up to 300 mph.
Tornado Watches VS Warnings
In order to know what to do in the event of a tornado, you need to know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. I have literally had people argue with me about what they mean.
A tornado watch is when the conditions are right for a tornado. This means the meteorologists are watching for tornadoes. You should be watching the news and listening for sirens.
A tornado warning means THERE HAS BEEN A TORNADO SPOTTED! A warning is what tells you to get to your safe spot, the basement, or wherever you need to be. This is when the sirens will go off if you live in an area that uses that means to alert people.
How Can You Be Prepared for a Tornado Beforehand
If you live in an area that is prone to tornadoes, here are a few basic tips to get you started.
Create a Plan
You will want to make sure you and all members of your family know where to go in the event of a tornado. This includes your home, friends homes, and places you visit frequently. This should be a basement, storm cellar, or interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
Make Sure Kids Understand Tornado Sirens
You may not be in the same area as your kids when a tornado hits. Make sure they know what a siren sounds like and when to seek shelter. It is important that everyone knows what to do even if you aren’t with them.
Know Where Your Utility Switches are
During a severe tornado, you will want to know where the utility switches and valves are located. If time permits, you will want to turn them off. If, however, it is a true emergency get to your safe place and do not worry about them until the emergency has passed.
Pack Your Emergency Kit
It is always important to have an emergency kit in case of any disaster, natural or otherwise. You can have this emergency kit in your safe place or in a container that can be easily carried to where you need to go. Here is what you should have in your kit.
- Water: You need to have at least 1 gallon of water per person per day to last for three days. I prefer 4-gallons per person per day, but you already know that.
- Food: You will want to have canned or dried non-perishable items that don’t need to be cooked. Make sure you have enough food for each person for 3-days. If you have a baby, don’t forget to include formula and baby food.
- Manual can opener: You need to be able to get your food open.
- Battery-powered radio: This will help you know what’s going on and if help is on the way. Make sure to pack extra batteries as well.
- Flashlights: Tornadoes cause the power to go out. Make sure everyone has at least one flashlight and you have extra batteries.
- Prescriptions: If you have prescriptions, make sure you can easily access them.
- First-Aid Kit: Make sure your first aid kit is properly stocked with bandages, gauze, antibacterial ointments, and alcohol swabs. And don’t forget those over the counter items you use regularly.
Check out our 72-hour survival kit for more information on exactly what you will need when SHTF.
Prepare Your Binder
One thing we all tend to forget in the state of an emergency is to gather our important documents. This needs to be done well before a storm ever happens. You will need to have things like birth certificates, social security cards, and insurance policies. Check out how to compile a free emergency binder for more information.
Teach Your Family Emergency Skills
You can always hope you will be able to do everything in the midst of an emergency, but things can happen that will make that impossible. You could get hurt and not be able to take care of your family. This is why it is always important to teach your family how to administer basic first aid, how to use a fire extinguisher, and how to turn off water, gas, and electricity if need be. Some of these things can be crucial to survival in the midst of a catastrophe.
What to Do During the Storm
Once you know it’s time to get to your safe place, get there! Even if you and your family are not all together, the best thing you can do is get to a safe location.
- Grab your emergency kit
- Turn off utilities, if time allows
- Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information.
- If you have a helmet for kids and adults, please wear them.Remember to be prepared with your pets before the storm hits by protecting them as best you can.
Remember, to breathe! You are prepared and ready for anything!
Tornado Questions and Answers
If you have more questions about tornadoes, here are some answers to some of our top questions.
Are there even tornadoes in my state?
Yes, tornadoes have been reported in every single state. There are no areas that are immune to tornadoes. So, you should always be prepared.
When is tornado season?
Although tornadoes have been reported at various times throughout the year, they are most typical in months March through August.
When do tornadoes strike?
Tornadoes tend to happen in the afternoons and evenings. In fact, over 80% of tornadoes strike between noon and midnight.
Are some tornadoes stronger than others?
Yes, just like hurricanes, there are different strengths of tornadoes. They are classified on the Fujita scale with ratings between 0 and 5. An F0 is the weakest tornado whereas the F5 is the strongest. Here is the breakdown:
FO: This tornado has speeds of 40-72 miles per hour. You will see some damage to chimneys, branches of trees, and some uprooted trees.
F1: This is a moderate tornado. It has speeds of 73-112 miles per hour. It can peel the surface off roofs, push mobile homes off their foundations, and move cars off the roads.
F2: An F2 is a significant tornado of speeds 113 to 157 miles per hour. It causes considerable damage to roofs, mobile homes are demolished, boxcars are pushed over, and large trees can be uprooted.
F3: Even more severe is the F3 in which speeds can be 158 to 206 miles per hour. You will see severe damage. Roofs and walls will be town off well-constructed houses; trains overturned; most trees uprooted, and cars lifted and thrown.
F4: If a tornado is an F4, it will have speeds of 207 to 260 miles per hour. It will cause devastating damage. Well constructed houses will be leveled, cars will be thrown, and large missiles generated from things that aren’t properly secured.
F5: The F5 tornado is the tornado of the Wizard of Oz. With speeds of 261 to 318 miles per hour, you don’t want to be in this near-total destruction tornado.
Keep in mind that tornadoes form fast, so you won’t have time to prepare once it is spotted. If a tornado turns into an F5 and you aren’t prepared, you could be facing a life-threatening situation.
How can you be prepared for a tornado today? Share other tips in the comments below! Stay safe!