Each year, more than 1,000 tornadoes touch down in the United States. Though most of these storms aren’t deadly, the combination of high winds and little to no warning could result in damage to property and injuries to unsuspecting people. In fact, tornadoes can uproot trees, destroy sturdy structures and hurtle large objects through the air.
Now that spring has arrived, so has the possibility of tornadoes. Here are some tornado safety tips for older adults.
First, let’s look at the difference between a tornado watch and warning.
According to the American Red Cross, a tornado watch means a tornado is possible, while a warning means a tornado is occurring or will occur soon. If a tornado warning is announced, you need to get to a safe place as soon as possible.
Tornado Safety Tips
Before severe weather happens, put together an emergency kit. Include enough non-perishable food, water and medicine to last 72 hours.
Be aware of changing weather conditions by listening to the radio, watching TV or listening to an National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) Weather Radio. If you know the possibility of severe weather is high, keep an eye on the sky. The Department of Homeland Security says the following weather changes could indicate a possible tornado:
- A dark, often greenish-looking sky
- Large hail
- Large, dark low-hanging clouds that may or may not be rotating
- A loud road that sounds like a freight train
If a tornado is imminent or your area is under a tornado warning, move to a basement or other underground shelter. If you don’t have a basement, go to a small, windowless interior room (like a bathroom, closet or laundry room) on the lowest level of a building. Remember, a mobile home does not provide sufficient protection in a tornado.
How to Prepare Your Home for a Tornado
While it’s impossible to predict if your home can withstand a tornado, there are a few things you can do to help protect your home in the event of a storm. The Red Cross recommends:
- Make a list of items to bring inside before a storm. These could include things like lawn furniture or garden decorations.
- Help trees withstand higher winds by removing damaged limbs
- Make sure your yard is clear of any excess tree branches or firewood — these can be picked up and hurdled by high winds
- Make an itemized list of your belongings and household furnishings in the event your home is damaged