With the tornadoes this weekend, today and possible tornadoes over the next few days, the nonprofit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) offers the following 10 tornado safety tips for residents in the affected areas.
1. Create a family tornado plan and know where you can take shelter.
2. Closely monitor a NOAA Weather Radio or download the FLASH Weather Alerts app on your iOS or Android device.
3. Take refuge in a tested and approved storm shelter, safe room or a community storm shelter labeled as an official tornado shelter. Community storm shelters may be found by contacting your local Office of Emergency Management for the closest community storm shelter. If available, community storm shelters are commonly located in community buildings, such as schools, libraries, churches or even airports.
4. If no shelter is available:
- Are you indoors? Go to the lowest floor, to a small, center interior room, under a stairwell or to an interior hallway with no windows.Crouch down as low as possible to the floor, face down and cover your head with your arms. Cover yourself with a blanket, mattress, helmet or other thick covering. Wear footwear with thick soles to your safe location.
- Are you in a mobile home? Get out. Even if your home is tied down, it is not as safe as a sturdy building. Go to a nearby permanent structure.
- Are you in a vehicle? Do not attempt to drive away from a tornado. Go to a nearby permanent structure. Do not shelter under an overpass, bridge or in a drainage ditch. If you cannot safely exit your vehicle, park it out of traffic lanes. Stay in the vehicle with your seatbelt on. Put your head below the windows and protect it with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion.
- Are you outdoors? Shelter in a sturdy building. If no shelter is available, lie face down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms.
5. Keep your family together in a safe location and wait for emergency personnel to arrive.
6. Stay away from power lines, downed trees and puddles that could hide live wires.
7. Watch your step to avoid sharp objects.
8. Stay out of heavily damaged structures, as they may collapse.
9. Do not use matches or lighters in case of leaking natural gas or fuel tanks.
10. Listen to your radio for information and instructions.
Installing a safe room or storm shelter built to FEMA P-361 guidelines or the ICC/NSSA 500 standard can make a life or death difference. A site-built safe room can also be constructed in accordance with the prescriptive designs found in FEMA P-320: Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business, which meets the FEMA P-361 guidelines and the ICC/NSSA 500 standard.