Tornadoes can occur in any part of the country, including where we live. According to the National Center for Environmental Health, approximately 1,200 twisters occur in the U.S. every year, with devastating results for thousands of people.
Since tornadoes are often unpredictable and extremely powerful, no amount of preparation will eliminate every risk. But there are things you can do to protect your home and, more importantly, your family.
Prepare an area in your home for shelter. Designate a place in your basement (if you don’t have a basement, choose a central area on the ground floor) away from windows or objects that could be picked up and thrown by wind. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends keeping emergency supplies in your shelter area, such as a flashlight, a portable radio, first aid kit, food and water. FEMA has more shelter tips at www.fema.gov.
Develop an emergency plan. Make sure everyone in your household understands the local siren warning system and where to go when they hear it. Listen to the radio and TV for severe weather warnings. Discuss with your children what a tornado is, what tornado “watches” and “warnings” mean, what city and county they live in, and how to take shelter.
Tornadoes can overturn, throw or crush mobile homes. Designate a storm shelter, friend’s home or other building where you can evacuate to safely seek shelter when conditions are right for a tornado.
Consider the construction of your home. Garage doors are highly susceptible to wind damage, but you can buy retrofits to improve wind resistance. Consider installing high-impact windows designed for wind resistance. Make sure entry doors have at least three hinges and a dead bolt lock. Have a contractor examine your roof and foundation to ensure they’re anchored securely.
Document personal property before a storm strikes and keep this documentation in a safe place, such as a safe deposit box. Take photos or video of your property. This will help you and your insurance company replace lost or damaged items after a storm.