Yesterday was yet another day when many people heard the wail of tornado sirens across Middle Tennessee. The National Weather Service has confirmed two touchdowns so far from Monday’s storms and the storm season is just now getting started. Let the storms of 24 hours ago be a reminder that you need to have your safety plan already in place. To make sure you’re seeking shelter in the best place possible, review these general safety rules as recommended by the National Weather Service and FEMA:
Go to the lowest floor possible – If you have a basement, go there. The winds in a tornado get stronger as you go up in elevation. This means wind speeds will be higher on the upper floors so get to the lowest level. See my explanation of this HERE. If you have a walk-out basement, make sure to get in the part of the basement most underground. Also, if the basement is finished, you can get into a small windowless room. If the basement is unfinished, get under a workbench in case debris begins to fall from the house above.
Put as many walls between you and the outside as possible. The most interior portion of your home is generally the most protected.
Get into a small closet or bathroom – These rooms generally have no windows and have short walls which stand up better to the high winds of a tornado. In a bathroom, pipes in the walls also can add strength to the walls. You can get down in the bathtub and place a mattress (if you have time) or pillows on you for added protection. A closet or bathroom under a set of stairs can also provide a more protection due to the extra structure of the staircase.
Stay away from large openings such as garage doors and bay windows – These can easily be blown in and allow wind along with it’s debris inside the home. Being hit by debris is the number one way people are injured and killed in tornadoes.
Consider purchasing a storm shelter – There is no better way to protect yourself against the winds and debris of ALL tornadoes than a storm shelter. Whether it’s an underground version or an above ground model in your garage or other area of your home, these provide maximum protection from the destructive forces of these storms. Many storm shelters are designed to withstand winds of an EF-5 tornado and have proven themselves in real-world events to stand up to nature’s most violent storm. Even the U.S. government recommends a storm shelter as the best way to survive the wind forces of a tornado – especially in the part of the country bounded by the Rocky Mountains to the west and the Appalachians to the east. To see more on wind zones in the U.S., visit FEMA’s site HERE.
Take all TORNADO WARNINGS seriously – Tornado warnings are becoming more and more accurate. If you choose to ignore them, you’re putting you and your family at a much higher risk for injury or death. For more on that, click HERE.