Tornado Safety: Tips For When You're On the Road

Most people are familiar with tornado safety in buildings (and if not, educate yourself!), but do you know what to do if you encounter one on the road? As we enter another summer storm season, here are a few tornado safety tips for the highway.

Stay alert. Pay attention to the weather not only in front of you, but in every direction. You may drive through a storm, only to have a tornado form behind you. If the sky is an ugly green color, these are ideal conditions for tornado formation. Use your radio to see if there are any tornado warnings in your area. A tornado watch alert means conditions are right for tornadoes, a tornado warning means a tornado has actually formed.

Know what to look for. The obvious funnel cloud formation isn't the only sign of a tornado, some tornadoes form without the typical funnel. If you see a cloud of dust/debris on the ground, there could be a tornado causing it. If it's night, look for flashes on the ground which are telltale signs of power lines/buildings blowing up from high winds.

Get clear. If you can see the tornado and it's far away, you can attempt to drive away from it. If the tornado is close, its behavior is erratic, and driving away could mean you drive into its path. The biggest danger with a tornado is other objects being blown into you, so if you can't drive away or to shelter then try to park away from other cars and large objects such as telephone poles and billboards.

Find shelter. Your car or truck is not an adequate tornado shelter compared to a building. If possible, find indoor shelter immediately if there is a tornado in the area. Many rest stops have fortified shelter areas. If no buildings are available, park your car as safely as possible and get below the window line. If you can cover yourself with a blanket or sun shield, all the better. If there is significantly lower ground nearby, leave your car and lay facedown in the depression, with your arms protecting your head.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families in Oklahoma as they rebuild after the recent tornado. Stay safe, everyone!

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May 23, 2013