More tornadoes occur in the United States than in any other part of the world. The United States sees more than 1200 tornadoes annually, causing over 80 deaths and 1500 injuries. Most of these deaths and injuries are the result of people not following tornado safety rules, so many could be prevented.
The Southern United States, including North Carolina, is hit with the most tornadoes. Tornado season is March through August, but tornadoes have been recorded at one time or another during every month. Being prepared and following safety instructions can prevent deaths and injuries, so review the following tornado safety rules with your friends and family and make sure all of your loved ones know what to do when a tornado strikes.
Tornado Safety Rules
Before a Storm
- Prepare tornado safety rules with your family, including where to take shelter and where to meet after the storm passes
- Have a tornado drill once a year to review the warning signs of a tornado and to practice taking shelter
- Store protective coverings, such as thick blankets and sleeping bags, in your shelter spots to protect you from flying debris
- If you learn that a storm may be coming, follow the news to see of your area is in danger
During a Storm
Depending where you are when a tornado strikes, there are different ways to seek shelter:
A House: If the house has a basement or underground shelter, that is the safest place to go. If it does not, seek shelter in an interior room on the first floor, ideally one without windows such as a bathroom or closet.
An Apartment Building, Office Building, Store, or Other Large Building: If possible, go to the lowest floor of the building. Seek shelter in an interior room away from windows. Do not use the elevators in case the power goes out.
A Mobile Home: A mobile home is very unsafe during a tornado, even one that is tied down. Leave the mobile home immediately and seek shelter at the closest sturdy building.
A Vehicle: If there is time, drive to the nearest sturdy shelter immediately. If you cannot get to a shelter, park the car, keep your seat belt on, and put your head down below the windows. If there is a ditch where you can lie below the level of the car, leave the car and lie face down.
In Open Space: Seek shelter in the closest building if possible. If not, lie face down on low ground and cover your head with your arms. Stay far away from trees and cars.
No matter where you end up seeking shelter, remember to do the following:
- Avoid windows
- Put your head down and cover it with your arms
- If possible, cover yourself with a mattress, cushion, or thick blanket to protect from falling debris
After a Storm
- Safely go to your designated meeting spot to make sure all family and friends are okay
- If you are injured, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department
- Avoid puddles and fallen power lines
- Be cautious of broken glass and sharp edges when sorting through debris
- Do not enter damaged buildings
Tornadoes come and go in a matter of minutes, so being familiar with tornado safety rules and being able to quickly follow them is crucial. Review these tips with your friends and family to make sure you are prepared for the next storm.