Everyone knows tornadoes are devastating wind storms that take the lives of several people each year in the U.S. Most people are able to hear the emergency broadcast through their television or radio prior to a tornado reaching their location. What happens if you are caught off guard and a twister quickly approaches? Here are some tornado emergency scenarios and what to do if you find yourself in the path of a deadly oncoming tornado.
Backcountry Camping -- When you take a trek out into the backcountry, your goal is to get away from man-made structures and bond with nature. If you find yourself faced with severe weather - especially a tornado, it can be challenging to find a safe zone when in the wilderness or open plains. Even if you are far away from buildings that contain cut wood and metal, a country tornado can still inflict damage and carry debris - including rocks, trees and dirt. Always look for the lowest possible ground area to take shelter; this includes ditches, culverts and river banks. You can also take cover in caves or along one side of a large boulder or rock. When you find the lowest possible location, be sure to lie flat on your stomach and cover your hands over your head for protection.
Night-time tornadoes -- One of the scariest and most deadly times a tornado can strike is after dark. This could be a time when you are fast asleep - unaware there is tornado headed your way. If you find yourself awakened to a tornado that is just a few feet away and you are unable to get to the safety of your basement - lay flat on the floor and cover yourself with pillows, blankets and sheets to protect yourself from glass and flying debris. Try to get under your bed or another solid surface if possible.
On the Road -- If you are traveling down the interstate and spot a tornado very close by - don't try to outrun it. Look around. If there is a ditch on the side of the road, go to it and lie down flat. Try to avoid being close to your vehicle because the vehicle could roll on top of you. If there is no time and no ditch - stay in your car, get down below the level of the glass, protect your head and cover your face with clothing to avoid injuries. Avoid taking shelter in an overpass under a freeway - the air pressure could suck you out from underneath.
In an Elevated Structure -- Being at the top of a 50 story building when a tornado touches down nearby is a dangerous place to be. If there is not enough time to get downstairs, take shelter away from the windows - preferably in the center of the building or in the stairwell against the wall with your arms over your head. Do not use the elevator.
Seeking shelter in your basement or root cellar is the safest place in the event of a tornado. If you are unable to make it to an underground location, stick to the center of the building in the room with four surrounding walls. A bathroom shower will also suffice. If you have a very small child or infant, place them underneath you as much as possible to protect them from fallen debris. Always remember to avoid being a standing target for debris. Lying down and protecting your head will give you a better a chance at survival and minimize your risk for getting hit with a projected piece of debris.
" Tornado Safety, " NOAA/National Weather Service

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