Ways to Stay Safe Before, During and After a Tornado

“A tornado is a narrow, violently rotating column of air that extends from the base of a thunderstorm to the ground. Because wind is invisible, it is hard to see a tornado unless it forms a condensation funnel made up of water droplets, dust and debris. Tornadoes are the most violent of all atmospheric storms.”

In the wake of the tornado that hit and wreaked extensive damage throughout Moore, Oklahoma, living in tornado valley it’s imperative that residents know what to do in case of one. Here are some vital tips, courtesy of ABC News, to remember in the unfortunate event that you encounter a tornado.

Before the Tornado

Like the recent tornado in Moore, tornadoes are rapidly moving and violent storms that tend to touch down with little to no warning, and unfortunately, these massive storms have the ability to change direction at any given time. This is why it’s important to know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. A watch means “the weather conditions are right for a tornado to form in your area,” as opposed to a warning, which means a tornado has been spotted and you could be in its path.

If a watch or warning is issued, stay indoors and be cognizant of the weather conditions. To keep up to date with the latest alerts and warnings, tune into the National Weather Service’s radio station. While indoors, keep an eye on the sky. As long as the storm hasn’t hit, it is suggested to watch for these danger signs:

• Dark skies
• Hail
• Large, dark and low clouds
• Strong winds that often sound like a roar or freight train

During the Tornado

There is nothing better than being prepared for the worst. When it comes to a tornado, one of the safest things you can do is have a plan in place for the family.

If you are in a structure with study walls, like a home or office building, go to a pre-designated shelter such as a storm cellar or a basement. If you don’t have access to either, get to the floor closest to the ground and the most central room. Avoid rooms with windows, doors, and outside walls.

If you find yourself in a mobile home or vehicle, get out immediately and get to a building or storm shelter. If you are outside without any available shelter, get to the lowest area, like a ditch or land depression. Make sure you cover your head and DO NOT go under any bridges or overpasses. Even though it may be natural instinct, don’t try to outrun a tornado and watch for flying debris.

After the Tornado

As we have recently witnessed, the aftermath of a tornado can be completely devastating to the lives, homes and community of the hit area. Make sure you check for any injuries after the storm, and seek medical attention immediately. If someone if trapped under debris, try not to move them unless there is immediate danger.

While cleaning up the debris, wear thick gloves to protect your hands, and be aware of broken glass and nails out in the open. DO NOT go near fallen power lines and be cautious while walking through damaged homes and structures.

When a tornado hits, it’s expected for there to be some damage. Although we always hope for the best, being prepared can help save the lives of yourself and your loved ones. This means not only having the knowledge of what you should do before, during, and after a tornado, but make sure it’s second nature, especially for young children.