Every spring, meteorologist watch for cold air from Canada to collide with the warm air rising out of the Gulf of Mexico. And like clockwork they watch big thunderstorms build and build until they drop one of nature’s most deadly events, the tornado.
The thunderstorms in and of themselves can be dangerous; any time there is lightning, you should take shelter — not under a tree! But when these storms actually begin rotating, that’s when things can get really dangerous, sometimes even deadly.
Tornadoes can have a wide range of wind speed, but don’t be fooled, even a low grade tornado with wind speeds up to 85 miles per hour can cause trees to fall, which can lead serious injuries to people and property. Most injuries and deaths from a tornado are caused by debris being tossed around by the storm. So don’t scoff when the weatherman tells you there is a possibility for bad weather. Being aware is the first step to staying safe.
So here are a few things to thing about to keep your family safe from tornadoes.
First educate yourself- what do you need to know about weather warnings?
• A Severe Thunderstorm Watch means conditions are favorable for the development of a severe thunderstorm. Not every thunderstorm has the potential to produce a tornado but it’s good to understand when these storms could happen.
• A Severe Thunderstorm Warning means that a severe thunderstorm has developed and you should take shelter immediately if you are in the affected area.
• A Tornado Watch means that conditions are favorable for the development of tornadic activity.
• A Tornado Warning means that an active tornado is on the ground, either indicated by radar or actually sighted by someone on the ground.
Second: Learn what you should do if a tornado strikes in your area.
• Be alert. If a tornado watch is given, know where your family is and how to get to them quickly. If your area has tornado sirens and they go off, seek shelter immediately.
• Have a way to monitor the weather, through an app on your phone to a hand crank radio. Don’t count on electricity being on if bad weather is in the area.
• Have a sheltering spot set in the house, which should be the lowest spot in the building. If you don’t have a basement, get into an interior room, preferably with not windows.
• Just like your kids do at school, you should practice your disaster drill at least once a year, so everyone understands how long it takes to get in place and if anyone has the responsibility of grabbing smaller child or pet.
• Teach older children the three tornado points: Get Away, Get Shelter, Get Low.
• If you are in a car during a tornado, get out and get into a ditch as low as possible. Do not shelter under overpasses or bridges.
You as a parent should know your children will be scared too, unless they are taught exactly what to do. Take the time to make you children aware.