April 25, 2013 by

If you’ve spent time in the Midwest, you are no stranger to tornados. Many of us could share a story of “the Big One” or a storm we’ll never forget. Hopefully, with stories come memories of survival and preparedness. The following tips can help you prepare for when the next tornado strikes.

Who’s at Risk?

Tornadoes strike most often between March and June in the central U.S., but they’ve been reported in all 48 continental states, at all times of the year. Older adults need to take additional actions, like having their medications accessible and giving themselves plenty of time to get to shelter.

What to Do if a Tornado is Coming

Seek shelter immediately! If you’re away from home, your best bets are basements or interior corridors of office buildings, tunnels, or underground parking lots. Avoid auditoriums, upper stories of office buildings, trailers, and parked vehicles. And stay away from windows. If you’re out in the open, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area and protect your head. Stay away from poles and overhead lines.

If you’re driving, drive at right angles to the tornado’s path. If you can’t escape the path of the tornado, get out of the vehicle to avoid being overturned and crushed. If you’re at home, head for the basement and take cover under a heavy table or workbench. If you don’t have a basement, go into a windowless room in the center of the house. If that’s not possible, stay away from windows and cover yourself with a rug for protection against flying glass and debris.

Know the Difference Between a Watch and a Warning

A tornado watch means conditions are right for the formation of a tornado. Stay alert, and be prepared to take shelter. A tornado warning means a tornado has been spotted in your area. Take shelter immediately!

What to Prepare

Here are suggested items for your emergency kit: One gallon water per person per day for at least three days; a three-day supply of non-perishable food; battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA weather radio with tone alert, and extra batteries; flashlight and extra batteries; first aid kit including a whistle to signal help; prescription medications and glasses, including medical equipment like test strips or syringes, if needed; pet food and extra water for your pet; a sleeping bag or warm blanket; change of clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and sturdy shoes; fire extinguisher; matches in a waterproof container; personal hygiene items; moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation; disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer; and paper cups and plates, plastic utensils, paper towels, and a can opener.

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) recommends preparing a survival kit of basic needs (food, water, etc.) for 72 hours for the home and car. Visit ready.gov for a complete list of emergency preparedness items. When a tornado strikes, there is often little time to gather items or get to a store. Make your own kit and store in a plastic tote, or purchase a kit from National Safety Council, Nebraska for $45 or $69 at safenebraska.org or call 402-896-0454.

Adapted from National Safety Council. NSC makes no guarantee as to and assumes no responsibility for the correctness, sufficiency, or completeness of such information or recommendations. Other or additional safety measures may be required under particular circumstances. For more information, visit safenebraska.org.