Okay with all the tornadic activity that has gone on lately, and me being a girl from hurricane country, I wondered – well – how the heck does a person prepare for a tornado?  The vertical hurricane. 

I mean you’re sitting there one minute watching TV and the next you’re wandering the streets scattered with debris in a daze wondering where the heck your house went.

What are the 'in case of a tornado’ rules, guidelines, procedures to take should the need arise? 

First, I’ve soon discovered, no place is exempt from tornadoes.  Just because you haven’t experienced a tornado doesn’t mean it won’t happen where you live.

So, I know this sounds silly but you may want to consider having coverage on your home for such a natural disaster. You may ‘have’ home insurance, but that does not mean it ‘covers’ everything that comes your way.  Oh contraire. Home insurance is like buying off the value/dollar menu at a fast-food restaurant, everything is purchased individually.  By having the proper insurance you will at least have peace of mind that you will have a home to go to in the future.

Next, get a NOAA weather radio and program it to all of the counties around your county.  The reason for this is, if you program it for just your county you will be hearing about weather that is already upon you.  Listening to what is happening around you gives you time to prepare and make provisions.  Also, should you lose power before hand more often than not these radios have a battery back-up. And I know, it’s a pain to listen to what is happening in neighboring counties miles and miles away, but like they say “no pain no gain!” (I know that’s a gym analogy but it works here too)

Okay once you’ve got your insurance and weather radio in order you need to look around the house – both inside and out.  Keep in mind, a lot of damage that is done is caused by violent winds and flying debris at times in excess of 70 mph.  So, think about it, if a tornado can pick up a house and send it down the road, it can most assuredly pick up that bicycle or wagon left out on the lawn and hurl it into a window as well - which leads me to the topic of safe places in your home to hunker down in.  

If you have a basement, I guess it’s a given this would be the place of choice or a storm cellar (do they even make those anymore?).  Both are acceptable. 

Next would be the interior of a doorway or hallway on the lowest floor – I imagine the thought here is that the doorway or hall would be more structurally sound than an open room.  Or get under a sturdy piece of furniture.  Once on the floor, cover your head and neck with your arms and kiss your …oh wait, … er ... cover your head and neck.

Whatever you do stay away from windows and glass items.  Just because the antique vase you inherited from Aunt Gertrude is in your home doesn’t mean it’s gonna stay in your home or even where you put it.  Remember – violent winds?  And for goodness sakes don’t open your windows thinking the storm is going to blow through.  It doesn’t work that way.

If you live in a mobile home – needless to say, you need to get to a safe place fast.  Don’t dilly-dally around.  You should have your emergency bag packed and ready to go.  Mobile homes are referred to as tin cans in hurricane country.  The siding on these homes peel back like someone peeling an orange when the wind hits them. And it’s not a pretty site. Once the siding is ripped off all that remains is a jumbled mass of dangerous jagged metal.

As to warnings other than the weather radio?   People have described the sound of an approaching tornado many ways, but the most consistent is a loud roar - similar to a freight train.  Now, I can’t say for sure, but I would assume that the other descriptions came from those who have never heard a freight train.  Which leads me to this question - how did people describe tornados before the freight train was invented?  Just sayin.

Okay back on task, just like hurricane season, there is a tornado season (or seasons).  In the southern states it is March through May and in the northern states, during the summer.  And, unlike hurricanes or other natural disasters tornados seem to have a window of time - most likely occurring between the hours of 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Like I mentioned before, your emergency bag should already be packed.  Keep it close as it may be the only thing – besides yourself – left of your home when the tornado passes.  Put the bag in a place that can be accessible; you may even have it with you in your safe place. If by some chance you don’t have your bag packed, at least shove a flashlight, blankets, shoes, food items and some cash at a minimum into one.

I would think this would go without saying, but here goes. Get out of automobiles.  Don’t try to outrun a tornado in your car.  You’ll lose. Remember the movie Twister?  The flying cow?   The oil tanker?  These are violent, vicious winds that leave nothing unturned.

Start making your plans now.  You should have an emergency bag packed for your home, vehicle and work place so you so you won't have to be without.

Natural disasters can and do happen everywhere.  Our weather patterns are becoming more and more unpredictable. Don’t have a natural disaster turn into a man-made disaster by not being prepared.

There is tons of information out there.  Please take the time to contact your local emergency agencies to find out more. Just sayin.

- Survivor Jane






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