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What to Do During a Tornado Warning

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    NEWSLETTERS

    What should you do when you are in a tornado warning?

    During the spring and summer here in Connecticut, we get a lot of thunderstorms but occasionally the atmosphere is ripe and the storms have the potential to become severe.

    The key is whether your family would know where to go and what to do
    when the big one potentially hits.

    Paul Shipman, of the American Red Cross, says that no matter how you get a severe weather warning -- from television, the radio or your smart phone or tablet -- it’s time to spring into action once you see a tornado warning.

    That means going to the safest spot in your home or office. An underground or windowless space is the best possible place to be in a tornado.
                 
    If you don’t have a basement, the safest place to be is in a small, interior room, a closet bathroom or an interior hallway on the lowest floor of your house.

    It’s also important to realize that not all basements are safe, especially walkout basements with sliding glass doors.

    Shipman said the glass could come flying at you. He also warned that any lawn furniture will become a projectile.

    “You want to be in a strong, reinforced space,” Shipman said.

    When coming up with a safety plan for you and your family, putting together a safety kit is a good idea.

    That should include a flashlight, bottles of water, a few snacks, work gloves, extra batteries and cash. 

    If you are on any kind of prescriptions, have a week's supply for yourself.

    How to Prepare: Tips from the Red Cross
     

    • During any storm, listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed about tornado watches and warnings.
    • Know your community's warning system. Communities have different ways of warning residents about tornados, with many having sirens intended for outdoor warning purposes.
    • Pick a safe room in your home where household members and pets may gather during a tornado. This should be a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
    • Practice periodic tornado drills so that everyone knows what to do if a tornado is approaching.
    • Consider having your safe room reinforced. Plans for reinforcing an interior room to provide better protection can be found on the FEMA web site.
    • Prepare for high winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees.
    • Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.

    Watch for Tornado Danger Signs:

    • Dark, often greenish clouds – a phenomenon caused by hail
    • Wall cloud – an isolated lowering of the base of a thunderstorm
    • Cloud of debris
    • Large hail
    • Funnel cloud – a visible rotating extension of the cloud base
    • Roaring noise

    What to Do During a Tornado

    • The safest place to be is an underground shelter, basement or safe room.
    • If no underground shelter or safe room is available, a small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is the safest alternative.
    • Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes or other severe winds.
    • Do not seek shelter in a hallway or bathroom of a mobile home.
    • If you have access to a sturdy shelter or a vehicle, abandon your mobile home immediately.
    • Go to the nearest sturdy building or shelter immediately, using your seat belt if driving.
    • Do not wait until you see the tornado.
    • If you are caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building. If you cannot quickly walk to a shelter:
    • Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
    • If flying debris occurs while you are driving, pull over and park. Now you have the following options as a last resort:

    Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible.

    If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.

    • Your choice should be driven by your specific circumstances.