Approaching the middle of 2019, the United States has already experienced 452 tornadoes. So far, 31 people have died due to the fury of a tornado. In the previous year, there were 1,123 confirmed tornadoes that ripped through the United States. Ten people died during that span, which is the lowest on record. Still, ten deaths is one too many. Interestingly, the country witnesses more tornadoes than any other nation in the world. In fact, American soil gets four times more tornadoes than the rest of the planet combined. That fact alone should tell you that you need to be ready in case a tornado develops near you.
Preparing for A Tornado
If you live inside what the Tornado Alley, you’ve probably seen at least one twister in your lifetime. You’re also probably familiar on the things you need to do in case one approaches you. For newcomers to these states, you have a lot of catching up to do.
Tornado-Proof Your Home
Start off by securing all the doors, windows, and other parts of your house where the strong winds can enter. Remember, damage occurs once tornado winds are able to enter a house or other structures through windows or other openings.
Secure the Doors
You don’t have a Hodor to hold the door and keep the strong winds from breaking it down. Make sure your doors have three hinges attached with three-inch screws. Install a two-inch deadbolt, as well. Use three-inch screws to secure the frame to the wall framing. It would also help if you replace your wooden door with a steel one. However, securing the frame is more important.
Garage doors are one of the weakest points of your home. It can easily be dislodged by strong winds if you don’t address it properly. A single-car garage door can take 50 pounds of pressure per square foot. An oversized garage door, meanwhile, is more likely to be damaged by strong winds. If you have a multi-car garage, you have to install additional support such as wood or metal bracing. These vertical bracings can be installed once a tornado warning is issued.
Strengthen the Windows
Replace your windows with impact-resistant ones. They may be expensive but you’ll be spending more if the tornado manages to enter your home through such weak windows. If budget is really a problem, you can have hurricane shutters installed, instead.
The cheapest option would be plywood covers. Prepare planks of plywood that are cut to fit the windows including the exterior frame. You will need to attach the plywood to the frame using long screws once a tornado warning has been announced. It will be a lot easier and quicker if you have pre-drilled holes and labelled plywood covers so you know which one to attach to a specific window.
Secure the Roof
If you’re no familiar with your roof, find out what kind of sheathing and attachments were used. Make sure you have wind-resistant roof sheathing and covering. If roof nailings were used to attach the roof to the structure, have them replaced with hurricane clips.
Build An Underground Shelter
If relocating is out of the question and you don’t have a basement, you should strongly consider having an underground shelter built under your home. Ideally the entrance to your underground shelter should be inside the house so you don’t have to risk going outside to go to your underground shelter.
Fill your shelter with non-perishable food, water, medicines and other supplies. You should also have money and important documents kept in your shelter. Don’t forget survival gear and other things you may need to survive and be comfortable while you’re trapped inside your shelter. This should include lanterns, flashlights, headlamps, beddings, extra clothes, warm clothes, a hand-crank radio, two-way radios, extra batteries, and a fire extinguisher among other things.
Aside from the supplies and survival gear in your shelter, you should also have bug out bugs. These bags contain essentials that would help you survive for at least three days. You will need to bring these bags if you are forced to evacuate your home before the tornado strikes. If you shelter in, at least you have extra food, water and supplies that will prove vital in case you can’t get out of your shelter after the tornado.
What To Do
When You’re At Home
Once a tornado warning is issued, act fast and prepare your home and your family for the danger that may come. Start off by doing your last-minute fortifying. Close all the windows and attach the plywood covers. Do a quick sweep of the outside of your yard. Make sure to bring any loose item that may become danger projectiles once the tornado reaches your property. Use chains or strong rope to secure those too large to carry inside.
Have everyone grab their bug out bags and head to the basement or your underground shelter. If you don’t have a basement or shelter, move to a room at the center of the house. The more walls there are between you and the twister, the better your chances of surviving. A hallway or stairwell will also do if you don’t have any of the better options.
Close the door of the room then stay in the middle or under sturdy furniture. Cover your head as you wait for the tornado to leave. Once it’s over, don’t go out just yet.
If You Are In A Car
In case you’re driving when a tornado suddenly pops up within your sight, you should stay calm and survey the situation. If you still have time, find a place where you can take refuge. Head for the nearest building you can see, leave your car, and go inside the building. Once inside, stay away from the door and windows. If there’s a basement or a window-less room inside your shelter, go there at once.
If there are no buildings or other possible shelters around, stay in your vehicle. Never take shelter in a mobile home. It is more dangerous than staying in your own car. If you happen to be in a mobile home when a tornado develops, get out as fast as you can and head for a better shelter.
According to The Weather Channel, you should avoid staying under a highway overpass. The risk of getting killed or injured is far greater under an overpass because it acts like a wind tunnel. The velocity of the wind can actually get worse as it passes through the underpass. There are a lot of cases in which people who mistakenly taken refuge under an overpass, perished because of the debris brought about by the tornado.
It’s also possible to drive away from a tornado, according to NPR. If the twister is still far from you, observe its movement. Once you determine its path, take the route that is 90 degrees from where the tornado is headed.
If You’re Out In the Open
The last place you want to be when a tornado strikes is to be in the middle of an open field. You are susceptible to severe injuries and even death if a tornado catches you out in the open. The best thing you can do if there is no shelter of any kind is to find a ditch or any depression on the ground. Lie flat in the ditch and cover your head.
While these tornado preparedness tips would certainly be useful when the time comes, nothing can really prepare you when an actual disaster hits. The most important aspect of disaster preparedness is the ability to stay calm amidst all the chaos. A calm mind lets you think clearly thus allowing you to recall all the stuff you learned about dealing with an emergency situation, in this case a tornado.
Visit The Gentleman Pirate to know more valuable survival tips that you may find useful during a tornado.
Just a disclaimer – We have partnered with these companies because we use their products and/or proudly trust and endorse them – so we do receive a commission if you make a purchase or sign up for services. Often, we are able to negotiate special discounts and/or bonuses, which we will pass on to you via our links. We often get short notice on sale items available for 24-48 hours as we will pass these savings onto you.