Tornadoes can happen at any time and any place. Because these extreme storms are inevitable, it's essential to be prepared before the fact. If you've done the prep work ahead of time, you have a much better chance of coming out on the other side of a tornado unharmed.
Tornado preparedness puts the odds in your favor and helps you avoid injury and distress. While there are many ways to be prepared (installing a storm shelter, stockpiling food, etc.), one of the best things you can do is educate yourself. The team at Ground Zero Shelters is dedicated to helping our Oklahoma City and Tulsa, OK customers know how to respond in the event of a tornado. Here are our top five "don'ts" when a tornado hits.
We see them all the time on the local news—thunderstorm watches and warnings. Too often, we assume these warnings are false alarms. After all, we've all seen "TORNADO WARNING" plastered across the screen, then gotten nothing more than heavy rain. However, it's crucial to go into tornado preparedness mode as soon as the storm sirens go off. At the first sign of trouble, get home immediately and move into your storm shelter. This advanced warning has literally been the difference between life and death for many people.
Is it okay to look outside and watch the sky? Should you open windows during a tornado? We get these questions all the time at Ground Zero Shelters, and their answer is simple: no. While it may be enticing to look out the window and watch funnel clouds form, it's dangerous to get too close to glass. Windows break easily and turn into very harmful debris. In fact, being hit by debris is the number-one way people lose their lives in a tornado. It's always better safe than sorry!
A second window-related issue is whether or not to leave them open. It's a myth that leaving the windows open will equalize pressure and keep your windows intact. In reality, opening your windows will only serve to weaken your home as strong winds gust around inside. The best thing you can do during a tornado is to stay away from windows altogether.
The best place to take shelter is in an under- or above-ground safe room. However, we understand that not every household or workplace has a secure interior space to hole up. As you search for the safest place to wait out the tornado, be sure to avoid any large, open areas. Big rooms like cafeterias, gyms, and auditoriums do not make good areas to shelter in place. Staying in these spaces means there is no barrier between you and any flying debris. Being in open spaces outdoors also puts you at higher risk of injury from lightning.
Storm chasing seems like an exciting activity for any adrenaline junkie. But trying to outrun a tornado for any reason is never a good idea. Most tornados clock in at 10 to 20mph, but some can go faster than a car on the highway. Even if you step on the gas, your chances are slim to none of outrunning a tornado. When the sirens begin to sound, seek shelter immediately and don't leave until the storm is over. Pulling off to a gas station or restaurant and getting indoors is much better than becoming a sitting duck in your car.
Sometimes, you may find yourself with no way to get indoors before a tornado hits. In those cases, many people recommend finding an overpass or bridge to sit under. However, this is the absolute LAST place you should be during a twister. Instead, you should buckle up in your car and try to get below road level, like in a ditch. Winds accelerate as they travel underneath an overpass and can lift vehicles off the ground. What's more, the strong winds can do significant damage to the bridge's structure, causing it to collapse onto anything underneath. While waiting out a tornado is scary, finding yourself trapped under heavy concrete is worse.
Planning for a tornado isn't the most fun thing to do with your weekend, but it is necessary to protect yourself and your family. Thankfully, Ground Zero Shelters is here to help you make your tornado preparedness plan. We install several types of shelters and safe rooms so you have a secure place to go when the storm sirens begin wailing. Contact our professionals today to learn more about installation.