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Current Weather

How to Protect Your Family from Tornadoes

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When clouds loom overhead and winds pick up in your area, it’s crucial to keep an eye on the sky and an ear toward local news broadcasts. Tornadoes are rotating columns of air that extend from the base of thunderstorms to the ground and can destroy buildings, uproot trees, and send dangerous debris flying.

 With the potential to reach wind speeds of up to 300 miles per hour, these violent storms can wreak havoc on communities and put families in danger. Keep your loved ones safe with these tips to prepare for and shelter from tornadoes.

 Pay Attention to Weather Forecasts

Staying weather alert is always a good idea, particularly as strong thunderstorms build and approach your location. Check the forecast regularly to understand the risk for severe weather and, if possible, sign up for smartphone alerts or notifications.

 Put a Plan in Place

Each member of your family should understand what to do in an emergency situation. Create a plan that includes where to shelter in the event of a tornado warning. Typically, this is a basement, storm cellar or interior room on the lowest floor of the home with no windows. If you have a safe room or storm shelter, which is a hardened structure designed to provide near-absolute protection in extreme weather events like tornadoes and hurricanes, this is the time to utilize it. Clearly define who is expected to gather emergency materials, such as flashlights, blankets, a first-aid kit and extra food and water.

Understand Watches vs. Warnings

Key phrases from sources like the National Weather Service include “tornado watch” and “tornado warning.” Make sure you understand the differences to react appropriately.

  • Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible in or near your location. Review emergency plans with loved ones and be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued.
  • Tornado Warning: A tornado is active according to sightings or weather radar. It’s time to take action and follow your family’s safety plan.

 Build Your Home with Resistant Materials

If constructing a new home is on the horizon, consider the benefits of building with durable materials like insulated concrete forms (ICFs), which are a more resilient alternative to wood framing. For areas prone to natural disasters, ICF walls from Nudura provide superior strength to withstand extreme wind and impact damage from tornadoes and hurricanes. They also protect against wildfires due to a fire protection rating of up to four hours, compared to 45 minutes for wood framing, and provide greater comfort, durability and lower life cycle costs compared to wood structures.

 Shelter Safely

When a tornado warning is in effect, acting quickly is crucial. If at home, head to the basement, safe room or interior room away from windows and, if possible, stay tuned to local news for updates. At school or the workplace, follow the guidelines in place from tornado drills and proceed calmly but quickly to the shelter location. If driving and unable to get to shelter, pull over and get down in your vehicle with your head covered or leave your car and seek shelter in a low-lying ditch or ravine.