- Posted May 20, 2013 by
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Preparing Yourself To Survive A Tornado
Tornadoes can form in any month and at anytime of the year and have occurred in every state in the United States. However, most people associate the storms with the United States particularly along what is called tornado alley.
Tornadoes cannot necessarily be predicted or forecasted. Experts can only state there is a high probability of one forming based on favorable weather events. Tornadoes follow severe thunderstorms. Lightening and large hail are also associated with these severe storms.
Tornado alley may not be in the same place every year and the designation is based on frequency of the storms in a particular area.
Preparing for Disaster
Planning is important because during the spring and summer months in particular, storms can occur at anytime, so you have to be ready at all times. Designate a safe room that every person living in the home knows to go to in the event of a storm. The ideal safe rooms will not have outside walls (a single wall between you and the outside) and will not have windows and doors leading to the outside. However, a bathroom, hallway or closet can be a safe room as well.
The safest place during a tornado (other than a structure specifically designed as a tornado shelter) is inside of a structure. The exceptions are mobile homes and so-called pre-fabricated homes. If you live in a mobile home, or pre-fabricated home leave for a shelter immediately upon hearing alerts or watches. Go to a friends or neighbors home, or a shelter in the community.
A basement or any below ground structure is the ideal place during a tornado, and if you have a separate structure make sure, all of your emergency supplies are stored there.
Know if your community has shelters and if so the locations. Drive the routes during the daytime and nighttime hours as part of your preparations so there are no questions as to how to get there during the storm. Keep in mind the storm may have destroyed landmarks you used in the past to navigate to the shelters. Make sure more than one person living in the home knows the locations, and has driven to the shelters.
Information is critical and it is incumbent upon everyone to stay informed. Invest in a quality portable radio that has a weather alert channel. The radio must be battery operated.
Emergency Essentials for the Aftermath
Typically tornadoes pass through an area quickly and can cause wide spread destruction or the devastation can be confined to a particular area. Not only do you have to survive the storm itself but you have to deal with the effects of the storm. The effects include power disruptions, loss of water and gas for heating and cooking, damaged structures and blocked highways and roadways.
You will need emergency supplies to survive in the days after the storm strikes until utilities and other services can be restored. The following is a list of emergency supplies every home should have.
An items placement on the list is not an indication of its importance.
• Drinking water for seven days and to calculate amounts use the recommended one gallon per person daily The recommendation is two quarts/liters daily of water just for hydration for each person and two quarts for oral and personal hygiene
Emergency Water Purification: Water service can be disrupted caused by line breaks or damage to the water treatment plant and private wells can become contaminated due to flooding. If you suspect your water source is contaminated you must filter and purify that source before drinking. To purify water for drinking you can use common household bleach that contains sodium hypochlorite (liquid chlorine at 5.0-6.0 percent as its active ingredient, the bleach cannot contain additives).
Add eight drops to a gallon of water (two drops per quart/liter), and if you do not have a dropper use 1/8 of a teaspoon or use a clean strip of paper. Dip the paper end in the bleach and allow drops to form at the end.
Once added shake the container well and allow 30 minutes. Use coffee filters, cloth, cheesecloth, activated charcoal, sand and gravel as filtering mediums.
• Food for seven days and keep in mind you may not have the means to heat or otherwise prepare the food, so it must be where it can be literally eaten from the can or package
• Medical supplies and include any medications that must be taken on a daily basis (maintenance medication)
According to the American Diabetes Foundation, insulin can be stored out of refrigeration up to 28 days (one-month supply) any amount above 28 days must be stored under refrigeration (American Diabetes Association, 2013)
• Two thermal (Mylar) blankets for each person, one to wrap in and one for ground cover
• Rain gear for each individual
• Insect repellent and netting if applicable
• Tools and materials to make emergency repairs to the home to include waterproof tarps, plastic, tape (duct), and/or plywood sheeting
• Portable radio
• Illumination such as propane or oil fueled lanterns along with battery operated flashlights
Caution: Candles and other open flames can cause a fire/explosion if there is a gas leak or other flammable materials present. Use extreme caution with open flames in the hours and days after a devastating storm.
There is the potential for gas leaks/flammable liquids in any structure damaged by a tornado.
• Shovels, brooms and garbage bags for clean up
• Dust masks/respirators for protection from airborne contaminates such as insulation, dust and other debris, safety glasses, work gloves and sturdy shoes (protection from ground debris)
• Emergency shelters that can be erected on your property such as tents and tarps
• Portable toilets such as chemical ones or ones that use bags designed for human waste it is important that you do not let waste of any kind accumulate inside the home If you have the room outside dig portable latrines and screen for privacy using tarps or other material Bury any spoiled foods as soon as possible to prevent rodent and insect infestations
• Signal flags/brightly colored material that can be attached to the home to alert rescue personnel the home is occupied
• Use bath wipes to conserve on water and have an adequate supply of hand sanitize It is important that everyone practice proper sanitation procedures to prevent the spread of diseases and harmful bacteria
It is assumed that the typical home would have blankets, cooking and eating utensils, personal hygiene items for all individuals and clothing appropriate for the seasons.
Heavy clothing along with head and eye protection can help prevent injuries to children from flying debris. Have the children wear football/bicycle helmets and safety glasses/goggles along with heavy overcoats and pants and sturdy shoes to help protect the feet from glass and other sharp objects that will be on the ground.
Most injuries and fatalities that occur during a tornado are caused by flying debris. Once again inside of structures other than mobile homes are the safest places. The reason mobile homes and pre-fabricated homes are not safe is because the high winds actually move the structures off their foundation and can tip/topple and in some cases pick the structures up.
Lightning strikes and in some cases, collapsing buildings and down power lines can cause fatalities and injuries as well.
Vehicles can protect you from lightning strikes, heavy rains and hail but a vehicle in the path of a tornado is not safe.
Article provided courtesy of C&K Design Partners, Jacksonville Florida
Sources & Graphics:
American Diabetes Association. (2013)
Sedalia News Journal.com