Tornadoes are among the most dangerous storms experienced in the U.S. and large sections of the South, Midwest, and Great Plains are always vulnerable to the possibility of a tornado during the spring and summer. When a tornado is imminent, it is very important to find shelter where you can be protected from the strong winds and flying debris. Some people have a tornado shelter built on their property or an interior room in their home that is safe from the storm. Those that live in a trailer park or apartment, however, must leave to find a tornado shelter where they will be safe.
It is recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to build your own tornado shelter, but this is not always a feasible option. The following are tornado shelter options that will help keep you safe during a tornado, regardless of where you live.
Underground Tornado Shelter
An underground shelter is the safest option for tornado cover because being underground puts you out of danger from the winds and debris. These shelters typically come pre-built with reinforced steel or concrete walls and they are installed either in the yard or under a larger structure like the garage. It is wise to have your underground shelter stocked with supplies if a tornado is coming including food and blankets.
The basement is the next best option after an underground tornado shelter because it is also underground and you can get there in a hurry. If there are outside doors or windows in your basement, you must stay away from them and take cover under a heavy piece of furniture or stairwell. It is possible for debris from the tornado to get into your basement so you must make sure your head and body are protected.
If you don’t have a basement and can’t build an underground shelter because of the terrain, a fortified interior room is your best option. This room should be on the ground level of your home with no windows and anchored to the foundation for extra protection from the strong winds. You can have a room like this built in a new home, but if you live in an older home that does not have a basement or underground shelter, you should take shelter in an interior room or closet that has no windows.
If you find yourself in the scenario described above with no basement, underground shelter, or adequate interior room, you may want to consider adding a prebuilt shelter to your home. These shelters are typically made from steel panels over a steel skeleton and are 8 feet by 8 feet in size. They must be anchored to the home’s foundation as well to protect against strong winds and they are an excellent storage space between storms.
Community Tornado Shelter
If you live in an apartment or a trailer park, you really have no alternative but to find a community tornado shelter if there is an impending storm. You can find the closest community shelter in your area by looking at the map featured on the website for Red Cross.
Act on a Tornado Watch, Not a Tornado Warning
A tornado watch is issued for an area when the weather conditions are right for a tornado to form. At this point, no tornado has been spotted yet but you should be on alert because one could form at any time. If you have a shelter on your property, gather some supplies and get ready to enter it at any moment. If you must leave your home for an underground shelter or a community shelter, you should do so as soon as the tornado watch has been issued. A tornado warning is issued once a tornado has touched down, making it too late to leave your home seeking shelter. This is why it is crucial to find shelter from a tornado after a watch has been issued because waiting for the warning could be a dangerous mistake.
You should always be ready for the possibility of a tornado during the spring and summer, especially if you live in an area that is prone to tornadoes. Make sure you already have a specific plan and place to take shelter and do not hesitate to act once a tornado watch is in effect in your area. While your shelter may keep you safe during a tornado, it is impossible to prevent property damage. Homes that have been damaged by a tornado need immediate attention so make sure you contact a disaster restoration professional once the storm is over. These professionals can help secure your home and repair the damage before it gets any worse.