2011 has been one of the most dangerous severe weather years in recent history, with over 400 fatalities to date and massive damage between the Southeast’s tornado outbreak in late April to the current spate of tornadoes that are devastating parts of the Midwest this week.
Dr. Greg Forbes, severe weather expert at The Weather Channel, offers his top 10 suggestions for keeping you and your family safe in the event of a tornado watch or warning:
- If you are in a manufactured (mobile) home, leave immediately and take shelter elsewhere.
- If you are in a frame house, seek shelter in the lowest level of your home basement or storm cellar). If there is no basement, go to an inner hallway, a smaller inner room, or a closet. Keep away from all windows.
- You can cushion yourself with a mattress, but do not use it to cover yourself. Do cover your head and eyes with a blanket or jacket to protect against flying debris and broken glass. Don’t waste time moving mattresses around.
- Make sure you have a portable radio, preferably a NOAA weather radio for information, and your cell phone with you to be able to call 911 in the event you are trapped.
- Don’t try to leave a STURDY building (but do leave a mobile home) to “escape” a tornado. Multiple tornadoes can emerge from the same storm, so do not go out until the storm has passed.
- Keep your pet on a leash or in a carrier.
- If you are outside, try to get inside and seek a small protected space with no windows. Avoid large-span roof areas such as school gymnasiums, arenas, or shopping malls, and again, do not seek shelter in mobile homes.
- If you cannot get inside a sturdy building, lie flat, face down in a ditch or low-lying area and cover your head and neck with your arms or a piece of clothing.
- While driving: If the tornado is at a distance, stop and let it pass or try to drive away from it if time and roads permit. If it’s behind you, don’t try to outrun it. If flying debris occurs while you are driving, pull over and park. Now you have the following options: Stay in the car with the seat belt on, and put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible. Or, if you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.
- Once you are in a safe location, call or text family members to make sure they seek shelter immediately.
For more severe weather safety tips, go to http://www.weather.com/ready/