Severe Summer Weather Awareness Week: Tornado safety tips
Posted on 4/23/2008
Bismarck, ND - Governor John Hoeven has proclaimed April 21 - 25 Severe Summer Weather Awareness Week. One week, every April, is set aside to focus attention on severe summer weather and the need for the public to be informed and prepared for it.
Severe Summer Weather Awareness Week encourages the public, businesses, schools, and government agencies to focus on being prepared and being informed about severe summer weather.
Severe summer storms can cause damaging winds, hail, rural fires, flash flooding, hazardous materials releases, and power outages. Experience has demonstrated that a well-informed and prepared public can better cope with and survive life threatening severe summer storms.
In a house with a basement: Avoid windows. Get in the basement and under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with a mattress, or sleeping bag. Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) and do not go under them. They may fall down through a weakened floor and crush you.
In a house with no basement, a dorm, or an apartment: Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down, and cover your head with your hands. A bath tub may offer a shell of partial protection. Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fail.
In an office building, hospital, or nursing home: Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building -- away from glass. Crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter, and if not crowded, allow you to get to a lower level quickly. Stay off the elevators; you could be trapped in them if the power is lost.
In a mobile home: Get out! Even if your home is tied down, you are probably safer outside, even if the only alternative is to seek shelter out in the open. Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes; and it is best not to play the low odds that yours will make it. If there is a sturdy permanent building within easy running distance, seek shelter there.
Otherwise, lie flat on low ground away from your home, protecting your head. If possible, use open ground away from trees and cars, which can be blown onto you. The only fatality in last year's Northwood tornado remained in his home.
At school: Follow the drill! Go to the interior hall or room in an orderly way as you are told. Crouch low, head down, and protect the back of your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.
In a car or truck: Vehicles are extremely dangerous in a tornado. If the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Otherwise, park the car as quickly and safely as possible -- out of the traffic lanes. Get out and seek shelter in a sturdy building. If in the open country, run to low ground away from any cars which could roll over onto you. Lie flat and face-down, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.
Outside: If possible, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If not, lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can.
In a shopping mall or large store: Do not panic. Watch for others. Move as quickly as possible to an interior bathroom, storage room or other small enclosed area, away from windows.
In a church or theater: Do not panic. If possible, move quickly but orderly to an interior bathroom or hallway, away from windows. Crouch face-down and protect your head with your arms. If there is no time to do that, get under the seats or pews, protecting your head with your arms or hands.
This site updated as of 5/28/2015.
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