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Tornadoes
Tornadoes can happen in every state and at any time, although they generally occur during spring and summer months. When a tornado is coming, you have only a short amount of time to make life-or-death decisions. Advance planning and quick response are the keys to surviving a tornado. With winds swirling at 200 miles an hour or more, a tornado can destroy just about anything in its path. Generally, there are weather signs and warnings that will alert you to take precautions.

The National Weather Service issues a Tornado Watch when tornadoes are possible in your area. Remain alert for approaching storms. This is the time to remind family members where the safest places within your home are located, and listen to the radio or television for further developments.

A Tornado Warning is issued when a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.

Tornado Danger Signs: An approaching cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible. Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.

What to do if a Tornado Strikes:

If you're at home:

Go at once to a windowless interior room (storm cellar, basement, or lowest level of building.  

If there is no basement, go to an inner hallway or a smaller inner room without windows, such as a bathroom or closet.  Get away from the windows       

Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they tend to attract debris.       

Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench, heavy table, or desk and hold on to it.      

Use arms to protect head and neck       

If in a mobile home, get out and find shelter elsewhere. If shelter is not available, lie in a ditch or low-lying area a safe distance away from the unit.      

If you're at work or school:

Go to the basement or to an inside hallway at the lowest level. 

Avoid places with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums, cafeterias, large hallways or shopping malls.    

Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench, heavy table or desk and hold on to it.       

Use arms to protect head and neck.      

If you're outdoors:

If possible, get inside a building      

If shelter is not available or there is not time to get indoors, lie in a ditch or low-lying area or crouch near a strong building.     

Be aware of the potential for flooding. 

Use arms to protect head and neck.      

If you're in a car:

Never try to out-drive a tornado in a car or truck. Tornados can change direction quickly and can lift up a car or truck and toss it through the air.

Get out of the car immediately and take shelter in a nearby building.   

If there is no time to get indoors, get out of the car and lie in a ditch or low-lying area or crouch near a strong building. Be aware of the potential for flooding.   

Use arms to protect head and neck.      

What do do after a tornado has passed:

Help injured or trapped persons 

Give first aid when appropriate 

Don't try to move the seriously injured unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.   

Turn on radio or television to get the latest emergency information.    

Stay out of damaged buildings. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.        

Use telephone only for emergency calls  

Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the building if you smell gas or chemical fumes.

Take a picture of the damage - both the house and its contents - for insurance purposes.        

Inspecting utilities in a damaged home:

Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor's home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, a professional must turn it back on.

Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.

Check for sewage and water line damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.

 
 
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