Across the U.S., tornado seasons can vary. According to The Weather Channel, southern states experience the greatest number of tornadoes from late winter to early spring. Areas in the Plains, Midwest and Ohio Valley regions see the most tornadoes from the early spring through late summer. April, May and June are when the majority of tornadoes occur, and 2014 has already seen some destructive twisters, like the one that tore through Arkansas, Oklahoma and Iowa in late April.
If you live in an area that’s prone to this type of weather, tornado preparation is a must – especially now that it’s peak season. From recognizing the warning signs of a tornado, to wearing appropriate clothes, to finding the right type of shelter, there are all kinds of steps you can take to reduce your risk of injury during a tornado. Here’s what you need to know to prepare for a tornado.
Know the warning signs
Keeping a close eye or ear on the TV or radio when there’s a tornado watch or warning can clue you in to danger. However, sometimes tornadoes appear without warning, which means you should know what to look for. Be on the lookout for a dark, often greenish sky, large hail, dark and low-lying clouds (especially if they’re rotating), and a loud, continuous roar like a freight train.
Build an emergency kit
According to the Ready campaign spearheaded by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, an emergency kit is simply a stash of items that you and your family might need in case of an emergency. This is something you should put together at the start of tornado season, and it should include things like a three-day supply of food and water for each family member, a battery- or crank-powered radio, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first aid kit, a whistle, and local maps. You can find additional information on the Ready.gov site.
Develop a family plan
It’s also important to develop a plan for your family in the event of a tornado, noted the Storm Prediction Center. Figure out where everyone will go during a tornado and practice a tornado drill at least once a year. You should also designate a pre-determined place to meet after the storm is over.
The safest place to hide during a tornado is in a safe room in the basement, cellar or lowest level of the building you’re in, whether it’s your home, a store, a school or your workplace. The best areas are toward the middle of the building where there are as many walls as possible between you and the outside of the building. It’s also helpful to find a place with things that can cover your head, like a mattress, table, workbench or even couch cushions. Be sure to stay away from windows.
Prepare the finishing touches
A few additional steps can ensure that you’re fully prepared if a tornado ever happens. For example, take a few minutes to prepare your yard. The American Red Cross recommended removing dead or diseased limbs from trees to prepare them for high winds. You should also move or secure things like lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or any objects that could become projectiles in the event of a tornado.
It also helps to make sure you’re dressed appropriately when a tornado hits. Wear layers of clothing that can be added or removed depending on the temperature, and consider getting a good, heavy-duty rain jacket. Slip-resistant shoes can give you traction during the storm and help protect your feet against debris like glass or nails. Steel-toed work boots are a good idea if you have them, since they can protect your feet from heavy objects. Shoes For Crews has a variety of styles – and they’re not just for work!
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