Texas Tornado Safety
by H.J. Hill
Tornadoes are common in Texas.
Tornadoes pose a significant safety threat to Texas. While a tornado can appear at any time of year in Texas, they are most prevalent during the spring and summer. According to the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the primary rule to remember when a tornado is sighted is "Get low and stay low". If bad weather is imminent, listen for warning sirens in your community and stay tuned to your local television and radio stations as well as NOAA Radio for alerts and updates.
Go to the lowest floor of a sturdy building. If at all possible, go into the center of the building, into an interior storage room, bathroom, stairwell or hallway that has no windows. If that is not possible, go as far into the core of the building as possible and stay as far away from windows as you can.
Avoid Unsupported Roofs
If you are in a building that has a wide, unsupported roof, such as an auditorium, cafeteria, gymnasium, or theater, and if you can do so safely, leave and take shelter in a sturdy building with a well-supported roof.
If a tornado is threatening, do not stay in a mobile home. Leave it and go into a strong building. If there are no sturdy structures nearby, lie flat on the ground or in a ditch or ravine. Watch out for rising water and flash flooding, which sometimes accompany severe thunderstorms or tornadoes.
Do Not Stay in a Vehicle
Do not try to escape a tornado by driving away from it. Tornadoes can change track suddenly and head in unexpected directions, cutting off your path of retreat. No vehicle of whatever size or speed is a match for the power of an unpredictable tornado. If you spot a tornado, do not stay in your vehicle. Leave it and seek a sturdy structure. If no building is available, lie down flat or in a ditch away from your vehicle. Again, watch out for rising water. Avoid taking shelter beneath highway overpasses. Tornado winds that funnel through an overpasses may actually increase their speed.
If you are in a shopping center when a tornado is threatening, do not leave the building to go to your car. Stay in the shopping center and move to the interior of the structure. Hallways or rooms in the core of the building are safer than those near the outside of the building. Avoid rooms with windows or large amounts of glass.
If you are in open country when you spot a tornado and no sturdy buildings are available, find the closest protected ground and lie down. Watch out for flooding.
Have a Family Disaster Plan
Get together with your family members and make a plan of what you will do in the event of a tornado. Gather first aid and other emergency supplies such as water, flashlights, batteries, portable cell phone re-chargers and nonperishable food. Determine beforehand where the family will meet if a disaster strikes. Keep a list of phone numbers in your home and see that every family member has a copy with them in case of a power or cell phone outage.