Tornadoes are one of the most unpredictable and devastating of all the natural disasters. Capable of striking anywhere and at anytime tornadoes are almost impossible to predict and virtually unstoppable. Long thought to be a phenomenon only in the North American Midwest tornadoes have been reported in all 50 US states and many countries around the world. The furious column of air that forms a swirling funnel can reach anywhere from 40 to nearly 110mph and the affected area can equal a radius of over one mile. Tornadoes are sudden, unforgiving and extremely dangerous weather events that have only one known precaution: hiding.
Unfortunately tornadoes leave little or no lead time for warning. Unlike a hurricane where people in at-risk areas may have as many as two to three days advance notice a tornado, or "twister" can pop up instantly, unleash its devastation and be gone just as quick. With such a small window for preparing it is recommended that you always keep a first aid kit on hand if you live in a high-tornado warning area.
These frightening and sudden storms form quickly, sound like a barreling freight train and immediately turn the sky and surrounding area black. Wind begins to swirl and then the ominous sight of the air funnel can be seen swaying across the landscape. When a tornado arises the only things you can do is run and hide. Try to get underground in a basement or storm shelter. Do not stay in a mobile home or car as these objects are easily tossed aside by a powerful tornado. If you are unable to get to a shelter lie down, preferably in a low dug ditch, until the storm passes. It's futile to try and predict which way a tornado will turn so don't try to outrun it by heading in what you think is the opposite direction.
Though brief the destruction caused by a tornado can be widespread. Count on power, electricity and running water to be cut off for at least a few hours after a tornado passes. Because of this be sure your emergency preparedness kit includes flashlights flashlights
, cell phones, batteries and fresh drinking water. The sky will still be dark and a lot of debris will be littering the ground so being able to see hazards with use of a flashlight is important. Having reliable communication devices such as cell phones and two-way radios are also recommended as it will allow you to contact rescue teams should an injury require immediate attention.
Ferocious wind storms like tornadoes and cyclones are particularly rough on roofs and often times will tear the shingles right off. Be prepared for such an occurrence by having heavy-duty polyethylene tarps to act as temporary shelters from wind and rain in the aftermath of a tornado strike. If you are waiting for a rescue team it could be a few hours so be sure you and your family have adequate shelter, dry clothing, warm blankets and enough drinking water and canned food to get through those interminable moments.