Eight do’s and don’ts of tornado safety

By: Mike Ittner, NR, Paramedic, TCHC Emergency Preparedness Coordinator

Summer. What a wonderful time of the year! Grass and flowers are growing, and the Minnesota state bird, the mosquito, is back in full force. Not only that but summer brings about the Minnesota tornado season.

This season runs from early spring well into fall, as warm moisture comes in from the Gulf of Mexico and clashes with colder, drier air. The only months during which a tornado has never touched down in Minnesota are December, January and February. tornado warning sign

To recognize a tornado, FEMA suggests looking for these danger signs:

  • Dark, greenish sky
  • Large hail
  • A large, low-lying cloud, particularly if rotating
  • Loud roar, similar to a freight train

If you find yourself caught in a tornado emergency, follow these do’s and don’ts so that you will know how to react calmly and stay safe in each situation.

 

  1. House – with basement

DO: Get to the basement and shield yourself with sturdy protection such as a heavy table or work bench, or use a mattress or blankets.

DON’T: Sit in the basement where heavy objects like a piano or refrigerator rest on the floor above. They could fall through the floor if it’s weakened by the storm.

 

  1. House – without basement

DO: Go to a stairwell or interior hallway without windows and crouch as low as possible. Cover yourself with a mattress or blankets.

DON’T: Stand near windows or other glass objects.

 

  1. Mobile home

DO: Get out as quickly as possible and find a shelter or lie flat on low ground away from trees and cars, protecting your head.

DON’T: Stay in the mobile home, even if it is tied down, as most tornadoes can destroy mobile homes that are tied down.

 

  1. Apartment, dorm or condo

DO: Go to the lowest level and move away from windows. In a high-rise building, find a hallway or stairwell in the center of the building.

DON’T: Take shelter in an elevator. Power may be lost, trapping you inside.

 

  1. Office building or storestorm with tornado

DO: Be conscientious of others and take cover in a windowless, enclosed area in the middle of the building.

DON’T: Ignore the instructions of facility managers.

 

  1. School

DO: Follow the drill and follow instructions given to you by faculty. Go to an interior hall or room. Crouch, put your head down and protect your head with your arms.

DON’T: Take shelter in large, spacious rooms such as gyms or auditoriums.

 

  1. Car or truck

DO: Drive away from the tornado at a right angle if it is far away and if traffic is light. Otherwise, park, get out and find shelter in a building or by lying flat on low ground.

DON’T: Seek shelter under a bridge. It offers little protection from flying debris and can accelerate wind speed.

 

  1. Outdoors

DO: Find shelter in a building. If that’s not possible, lie flat on low ground and protect your head with your arms.

DON’T: Take shelter under a bridge or near trees or cars. A tornado can blow them onto you.

 

 

Source: Minnesota Department of Public Safety

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