The United States experiences more than 1000 tornadoes each year, with the Midwest and Southeast most at risk. Tornadoes are violently rotating columns of air that extend from a thunderstorm to the ground. Tornadoes can happen at any time, and anywhere, destroying buildings, flipping cars, and creating flying debris that can severely injure or kill. Tornadoes are known for their typical funnel shape and bring intense winds over 200 mph. We’ve outlined five ways you can prepare your household to prevent anyone from being caught off guard at the sign of a tornado.
1. Understand Your Local Warning System
Educate yourself on how your county or community warns residents about tornadoes. Most tornado-prone areas utilize a siren system for both tornado watches and warnings. A tornado watch is issued when weather conditions favor the formation of a tornado, like during a severe thunderstorm. During a tornado watch you should pay special attention to local news stations and be prepared to take shelter at a moment’s notice. A tornado warning is issued when a tornado funnel has actually been sighted or indicated by weather radar. In this case, you need to immediately take shelter.
Since tornadoes are so commonly accompanied by thunderstorms, begin to pay close attention to changing weather conditions during a storm. A severe thunderstorm watch means a severe thunderstorm is possible in your area while a warning means one is currently occurring. While you should always pay attention to local weather forecasts in case a tornado is predicted, it is also helpful to know and understand the warning signs yourself. Some prominent signs of a tornado include a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud, an approaching cloud of debris, or a loud roar similar to a freight train.
2. Gather Emergency Supplies
It is best to always have a basic emergency supply kit fully stocked year round. Stock your kit with plenty of water, non-perishable foods that don’t require a long cooking process, and utensils. Be sure to have first-aid supplies, like bandages and anti-bacterial creams, in an easy-to-find location to prevent any panic in case you find yourself needing a patch-up. Keep flashlights and batteries on hand in the event of a power outage. Store your kit in an easily accessed location or wherever you will be sheltering in place.
3. Prepare to Lose Power
As is the case with all major weather events, it is very possible a tornado could knock out your power, leaving you in the dark for multiple hours or days. In 2017 alone, 36.7 million Americans were affected by 3526 power outages. In the event of heavy debris or rubble, it could take even longer for crews to even begin working to restore power. Additionally, depending on where your family will be seeking shelter, you may not have access to traditional electrical power.
With a backup battery generator or solar panel power generator, you could charge your communication devices and power home appliances easily. Geneverse (formerly Generark)’s HomePower ONE and SolarPower ONE have high-power outputs and wide-range compatibility, allowing you to choose what devices are necessary for your family’s comfort, whether it be lights, the refrigerator, security system, or a cell phone charger.
4. Secure Household Hazards
Since a tornado comes with winds over 200 mph and can turn everyday objects into dangerous hazards, you’ll want to keep your yard as clean as possible if there is a possibility of a storm or tornado. Clear your yard of items like branches, bikes, furniture, and even grills. Move these items inside if possible or secure them. If possible, park your car inside your garage.
5. Create and Practice your Emergency Plan
As is the case with most weather emergencies, it is important to make and practice a plan for your family to take shelter at a moment’s notice. Develop your emergency plan by assessing each room of your home and discussing where and how to seek shelter in each one. Find a secondary point of exit for each room, and locate any items you’d need like a rope ladder. Explain the warning system to anyone in your household, identify where you keep emergency items like fire extinguishers and first aid kits, and mark important utility switches that may need to be turned off in an emergency.
There is not always much warning when it comes to tornadoes touching down in your area, so it is always best to be prepared at all times. Like other weather emergencies, you’ll want to have an emergency kit readily available and a backup battery generator in case of a power outage. Educate your household on your local warning system, the safest point of shelter in each room of your home, and how to identify if a tornado is possible.
Learn more about preparing for a power outage and thunderstorm on our blog.
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