You can prepare for the possibility of
a tornado by learning the safest places to seek shelter at home, work,
school, or outdoors and while traveling.
In homes and small buildings: Move to a
pre-designated shelter, such as a basement. If an underground shelter is not
available, move to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor and get
under a sturdy piece of furniture. Stay away from windows and outside walls.
For information on building a safe room
inside your house visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency's "Taking
Shelter From the Storm: Building a Safe Room Inside Your House."
In schools, nursing homes, hospitals,
factories, motels and shopping centers: Move to
pre-designated shelter areas. Interior hallways and rooms on the lowest floor
are usually best. Avoid areas with wide, free-span roofs. Stay away from
windows and outside walls.
Mobile Homes: Mobile homes,
even if tied down, offer no protection from tornadoes and should be
Outdoors: Seek shelter in
a sturdy, well-constructed building.
While Traveling: DO NOT TAKE SHELTER UNDER
A dangerous trend has emerged in recent
years among people in the path of approaching tornadoes while traveling in a
car. Many of those in the path of a tornado are abandoning cars and seeking
shelter under highway overpasses, apparently believing this will increase
their safety from the storm. The idea that overpasses offer increased safety
probably received an additional boost in 1991, when a television news crew
rode out a weak tornado under an overpass along the Kansas Turnpike. The
resulting video was seen by millions, and appears to have fostered the idea
that overpasses are preferred sources of shelter, and should be sought out by
those in the path of a tornado.
In the Oklahoma City area on May 3rd,
at least one person was killed by a violent tornado while seeking shelter
under an overpass. Eyewitness accounts from others in the area indicated that
roads were blocked at times as people stopped cars to run up into the small
crevices under an overpass. Not only is the overpass unsafe as a shelter,
blocking roads denies others the chance to get out of the storm's path!
In reality, an overpass in the direct
path of a tornado is a dangerous place to be. Airborne debris can easily be
blown into and under the overpass where people might try to seek shelter. In
the 1991 Kansas Turnpike video, the tornado was relatively weak when it
passed near the overpass. A stronger tornado striking the overpass directly
would likely have caused serious injury to those attempting to find shelter
The safest course of action when a
tornado approaches is to get out of the tornado's path by driving at a right
angle away from the tornado, or to seek shelter in a sturdy, well-constructed
building. Overpasses offer no protection from a direct hit from a tornado,
and should not be used as shelter. If there is no time and no nearby shelter
lie flat in a ditch or depression and use your hands to protect your head.
After, the storm has passed...
Check for injured or trapped persons.
Give first aid when appropriate. Don't try to move the seriously injured
unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for
help. Turn on radio or television to get the latest emergency
information. Use the telephone only for emergency calls.