How to Be Ready for a Twister

As you're contemplating a new roof repair here in Arlington Heights or anywhere in the Chicagoland area, you might want to consider tornado-proofing it while you're at it. Even though tornadoes don't normally come near Chicagoland the chances of one hitting your area is still higher than the chances of an earthquake striking your hometown. Tornadoes are extremely dangerous and sometimes they pop up in areas that are not familiar with tornadoes such as Dallas-Fort Worth, Nashville, and Salt Lake City. Because of the unpredictability of tornadoes it is ALWAYS a good idea to prepare your home just in case one suddenly shows up to dinner. Here are some ways to help you feel ready for that unwelcome twister.

Before the Storm Rises

Prepare your home and family for a tornado by creating an emergency kit and a family emergency plan. Pay attention to radio stations and TV newscasts for the latest updates on a storm. Follow the instructions provided by local emergency executives. If they use the term "tornado watch" that means there is a possibility of a tornado so be alert. If they use the term "tornado warning" that means that a tornado has been spotted and you should take cover immediately. When watching the weather be aware of these signs: loud roaring sounds, dark greenish/greyish looking sky, large hail, and a rotating, low-lying dark cloud. Sometimes they may even appear transparent until they find something to pick up. They can travel 30 to 70 mph from one part of town to another and can strike any time of day. The swirling wind inside a tornado can reach 300 mph and can be as large as one mile wide and 50 miles long. Tornadoes can hit very suddenly with almost no warning, so you have to find shelter quickly if you do see or hear one approaching.

Amidst the Chaos

The majority of tornado injuries and fatalities occur from flying debris which is why you must seek out some from shelter that can protect you from airborne wreckage. If you are in a structured building seek out the lowest building level such as a basement, safe room or storm cellar. If no basement can be found, then get under sturdy table in the middle of the lowest building level interior room, away from walls and windows and cover your head. If you are in a mobile home or office get out as fast as you can and find a structured building for shelter. All mobile homes are terrible protection from tornadoes. If you are on the road or far away from a building then there are a few things you can do. You can get inside your vehicle, park it in a low, flat area away from the road, buckle up and cover your head with your arms and a coat, blanket or other cushion. Avoid bridges and overpasses at all costs and don't try to outrun the tornado. Flying debris will still be coming at you at very high speeds and if you're driving as fast as you can, you can really get hurt. Also, if you are in an urban or congested area just abandon your car and head for a structured building.

When the Dust Settles

Even if you survived a tornado hit, you could still get hurt from the damage that was left behind. Damaged power lines, electrical systems, or gas lines can lead to electrocutions, explosions and fires. Watch your step when evacuating a building and promptly attend to the injuries of others. Watch for broken glass, nails and anything sharp, hot or otherwise hazardous outside a building. Avoid touching anything electrical and gas related and report such damages to a utility company and the police. In fact, it's best to have your home checked for gas leaks and other damages before going into your home after a tornado. Wait until you are given permission by public safety officials to reenter your home and be willing to do everything they ask you for your protection as well as theirs. If you are requested to enter a broken down building be sure to wear sturdy shoes, long sleeved shirts, and heavy gloves.

Although tornadoes are the most violent and dangerous of storms, they are survivable. You just have be prepared and alert. Practice these safety procedures with your children and your family and role play what you would do in a variety of situations before, during and after a tornado. Much like any other catastrophe, if you expect and prepare for the unexpected your mind will be able to respond quickly and sufficiently to keep you and your family safe.

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