Tornadoes are strong, destructive and potentially deadly storms that occur on every continent except Antarctica. They are more common in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world and have occurred in all 50 states. Historically, they have been most common in what is known as “Tornado Alley,” an area that includes all or parts of Kansas, Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Ohio.
However, experts believe that a new hotbed of tornado activity is forming. Dubbed “Dixie Alley,” it includes southwest Kentucky and covers an area from eastern Texas and Arkansas through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, all the way to parts of the Carolinas.
People in either of the above tornado-prone areas, as well as those who reside in an area where tornadoes occur frequently, should know the steps to take when threatening weather approaches and should have a tornado survival kit prepared.
Safety Tips to Follow During Tornado
Unlike certain other types of storms, tornadoes can occur with little warning when the right atmospheric conditions develop. Weather forecasters and the National Weather Service are your best source of information regarding dangerous storms. A tornado watch means the conditions for the development of a tornado exist and you should be especially vigilant. A tornado warning means that one or more tornadoes have been detected in your area and you should take cover immediately.
What to Do When a Tornado Strikes
You should also be ready to take action if you notice any of the following:
- A greenish tint to the sky
- Large hail
- Dark, low clouds
- A dull roaring sound, similar to the sound of a freight train
If you believe or are told a tornado is imminent, you should do the following:
- If you are outdoors, get to a low area like a ditch and press your body flat against the ground as the storm passes over. Do not shelter in a car.
- If you are indoors, shelter in the basement; if no basement is available, go to a room away from windows and exterior walls.
- If you are away from your home during a tornado and it is damaged, do not go back inside until officials have told you it is safe to do so.
When heading for shelter, take the tornado survival kit you have previously prepared.
What to Include in a Tornado Survival Kit
Following a tornado, there is the potential that you will not have access to necessities like food and water for a period of time. To ensure you and your family can tend to your immediate needs, you should have the following items with you in sufficient quantities to last up to 72 hours:
- One gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation
- Non-perishable food (including a can opener if canned goods are part of the kit)
- Well-stocked first aid kit, including a list of medications
- Plates, cups, and utensils
- Formula if infants are present
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
- A whistle for each person, to signal for help
- Garbage bags and moist towelettes for personal hygiene
- Dust masks for air filtration
- Duct tape and plastic sheeting for creating or repairing a shelter
- Basic tools like a utility knife, screwdriver, and pliers
- Raingear and a change of clothes
- Personal care items including feminine hygiene products
- A tent and sleeping bags
Hopefully, you will never have to use a tornado survival kit. But if disaster strikes, you will be glad you took the time to assemble one.