Tornado Safety Rules
Do you know what to do if a tornado is moving your way? This page contains safety guidelines to use at home, work, at school or when travelling. Remember: the greatest threat from tornadoes is windblown debris!
In Your Home...
The safest spot is in your basement if you have one. Get under a sturdy workbench, table or under the staircase. Stay out of the corners, as that is where debris will collect.
If you do not have a basement, seek shelter on the lowest floor in an interior small room or hallway. Bathrooms and closets are good examples of rooms to go to for shelter.
Get away from your windows! Strong winds with a tornadic thunderstorm can shatter your windows and severely injure you.
In Your Vehicle...
Abandon your vehicle. Seek shelter in a dry ditch, ravine or low spot. Underneath an overpass is another possible shelter. Crouch low and cover your head with your hands.
NEVER try to outrun a tornado with your vehicle. Some tornadoes can travel 60 mph!
In Mobile Homes...
Leave your mobile home and seek shelter in a sturdy building. If one is not available, crouch low in a dry ditch, ravine or culvert and cover your head with your hands.
In High Rise Buildings...
You may not have time to go to the lowest floor, so seek shelter in a hallway or small room at the center of the building. Stay away from the windows, and out of elevators!
In Nursing Homes, Schools, Hospitals, and Shopping Centers...
Go to your pre-designated shelter. Interior hallways or small rooms on the lowest floor are usually your best choice. Be sure to stay away from large windows or glassed areas.
Do not seek shelter in dining halls, gyms or other large rooms, as roofs in these parts of a building are usually weaker.
Prepare a tornado plan. Make sure everyone knows where to go in the event of a tornado. Conduct periodic tornado drills.
Assemble a disaster supply kit for emergencies. Include a first aid kit, battery powered radio and flashlight with extra batteries, canned food and can opener, and bottled water.
Learn where to get weather information, and the meaning of tornado watches and warnings!
Lightning Safety Rules
Stay alert to changing weather conditions. It does not have to be raining for lightning to be a threat. Many people are struck before the rain begins at their location.
Employ "flash to bang". Sound travels one mile every 5 seconds. When you see the lightning count the seconds until you hear thunder. If 5 seconds elapse, the thunderstorm is one mile away. Ten seconds equals two miles. What is the "safe" distance from lightning? There is no absolute rule, but consider taking prompt, protective action if lightning is occurring within 3 miles of your location. Be aware that lightning can strike the ground 10 or more miles away from the thunderstorm!
Avoid being the tallest object, and stay away from other tall objects such as isolated trees.
Get off farm equipment, golf carts or other open vehicles. A hard top car with the windows shut is a relatively safe refuge.
If hiking in the mountains, go early in the day, before thunderstorms develop. If caught in the mountains during a lightning storm, seek shelter in a deep cave, or canyon, or below treeline in a large group of trees. Beware of flash flooding.
In a thunderstorm, get away from metal fences at ball fields. Drop metal objects such as golf clubs, and backpacks. Remember: metal is a very good electrical conductor!
Lightning may be ready to strike near you if you feel your hair stand on end or your skin tingle. Crouch down or drop to your knees, but do not lie flat on the ground.
The safest place in a lightning storm is inside a sturdy structure (your home, store etc.) Get inside the building, but do not stand by open windows, doors or patios during a thunderstorm.
Unplug unnecessary appliances and stay off the phone, and out of the shower during the storm.
Remember...it does not have to be raining at your location for flooding to occur! If you are along a stream moving out of the mountains be aware of thunderstorms and lightning in the higher elevations upstream from your location.
Never camp on low ground next to mountain streams.
Do not cross flooded roadways in vehicles or on foot. It only takes 6 to 12 inches of moving water for most vehicles to become buoyant. Also, the road bed may be washed out under the water.
If your vehicle stalls, abandon it immediately, and move to higher ground.
Flooding is most frequent during the evening hours. Be very cautious after dark when it is more difficult to recognize the flood dangers.
Get out of areas subject to flooding, including low spots, canyons, dry washes etc.
If you are advised to evacuate by local authorities, do so immediately!
Do not allow children to play around high water or storm drains.