Emergency Shelter: A Guide to Surviving A Tornado

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Even with advances in meteorology, warning times may be short or sometimes not possible. Lives are saved when individuals receive and understand the warning, know what to do, and know the safest place to go. Animals and Emergencies. Fast Facts About Tornadoes. The Fujita- Pearson Tornado Scale. Related Links.

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Before A Tornado. 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.

5. Prepare to enter your safe place

Designate an area in the home as a shelter, and practice having everyone in the family go there in response to a tornado threat. Before A Tornado Discussion Points:. Have disaster supplies on hand list. Develop an emergency communications plan. Tornado Watches and Warnings.

Mobile Homes. Tornado Danger Signs. Mitigation Mitigation includes any activities that prevent an emergency, reduce the chance of an emergency happening, or lessen the damaging effects of unavoidable emergencies. Investing in preventive mitigation steps now, such as checking local building codes and ordinances about wind-resistant designs and strengthening unreinforced masonry, will help reduce the impact of tornadoes in the future.

Develop an emergency communication plan In case family members are separated from one another during a tornado a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school , have a plan for getting back together. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person. Tornado Watches and Warnings A tornado watch is issued by the National Weather Service when tornadoes are possible in your area. Remain alert for approaching storms. This is time to remind family members where the safest places within your home are located, and listen to the radio or television for further developments.

Mobile Homes Mobile homes are particularly vulnerable. A mobile home can overturn very easily even if precautions have been taken to tie down the unit. When a tornado warning is issued, take shelter in a building with a strong foundation. If shelter is not available, lie in ditch or low-lying area a safe distance away from the unit. Tornado Danger Signs Learn these tornado danger signs:.

An approaching cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm.

Tornado States

It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado. During A Tornado. Go at once to a windowless, interior room; storm cellar; basement; or lowest level of the 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 under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench or heavy table or desk and hold on to it.

Avoid places with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums, cafeterias, large hallways, or shopping malls. If shelter is not available or there is no 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. If there is no time to get indoors, get out of the car and lie in a ditch or low-lying area away from the vehicle.

After The Storm. If you smell gas, do not turn on any appliances or switches. This includes using phones, flashlights or a cell phone. Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, or gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the buildings if you smell gas or chemical fumes. Take pictures of the damage—both to the house and its contents—for insurance purposes. Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance—infants, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Preparedness planning involves those efforts undertaken before a tornado to prepare for or improve capability to respond to the event and to better protect from tornado damage.

Protecting Your Business. FEMA has found that enhancing construction minimizes property damage to homes in areas prone to hurricane force winds, and those same techniques can be just as effective in guarding against damage from moderate to severe tornadoes. Also, proper construction techniques and materials based on the most current model building codes can be used in both new construction and into existing construction to reduce the damage from low to moderate intensity tornadoes.

In addition to building damages, businesses also suffer from loss of inventory, business interruption and loss of wages for their employees when a building is damaged. Businesses, especially small businesses, often do not re-open from these combined losses creating a substantial impact on the owner, the workers, and the community. Use threaded fasteners to attach metal roof decking. Welds are often insufficient to carry uplift loads. Reduce the number of windborne missiles generated from roofs on essential facilities e.

Use enhanced wind design for the roof coverings on essential facilities for those buildings located in tornado-prone areas. Use adequate ties to foundations and roofs when reinforcing concrete and partially reinforced masonry. Make ties between concrete and other materials with drilled-in fasteners or cast-in-place fasteners. Engineer and construct masonry walls to support the specific architecture of the building i. Diaphragm action to resist wind generated shear forces must be maintained and reinforcement must be properly placed in concrete and masonry walls to reduce the possibility of collapse during high wind storms.

Use anchors in precast concrete buildings to prevent the uplift of hollow core planks and other precast elements during high winds. Avoid the use of powder-driven anchors to attach bottom plates of walls to concrete unless they are very closely spaced to achieve sufficient pull-out resistance.

Tornado Hurricane Survival Kit

Minimize the creation of windborne debris, by appropriately designing, manufacturing, and installing architectural features. Protecting Your Community. Communities can plan for future tornadoes through promoting sustainable construction and tornado-resistant communities. Mitigation is achieved when a community actively seeks and applies methods and approaches that lessen the degree of damage, injuries, and loss of life that may be sustained from tornadoes. There are several ways to reduce the effects of tornadoes, including:.

Design buildings to the most current version of model building codes and engineering standards that provide greater protection against high winds. Build engineered shelter s to provide better protection and safe refuge in the event of a strong or violent wind storm or tornado. State and local governments should adopt the most current edition of a model building code to better address structural and architectural issues related to moderately high wind events.

To accomplish this, the local community may want to further regulate these features to ensure a reduction in potential debris materials. Determine which areas at important facilities such as schools and daycare centers are the best locations for occupants during a storm. Evaluate the need for tornado plans and shelters in essential facilities and other establishments serving the public e.

In addition, all buildings in tornado-prone areas should have a tornado refuge plan of where to send people. Consider the need for adopting ordinances and regulations that promote disaster-resistant communities by incorporating tornado shelters into new construction and communities. Keep up-to-date lists of addresses with shelters, to assist Fire departments and Emergency Services agencies in checking after a tornado to see if people are trapped inside.

Determine how to accommodate individuals with special needs both in the emergency plan for the shelter and in the design of the shelter, including complying with the American with Disabilities Act ADA. Protecting Your Home. The US Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA has found that enhancing construction minimizes property damage to homes in areas prone to hurricane force winds, and those same techniques can be just as effective in guarding against damage from moderate to severe tornadoes.

Use common connections in wood frame buildings, such as anchors, clips, and straps to provide a continuous load path for all loads-not just gravity loads. Reinforce masonry walls that provide structural support to a building to resist gravity, lateral, and uplift loads. Garage doors are highly susceptible to wind damage. Existing garage doors can be retrofitted to improve the wind resistance, particularly double-wide garage doors.

Use of retrofits and installation of new reinforced doors should better resist wind forces and, as a result, reduce roof and wall damage. Simplify construction to reduce uplift loads by incorporating simple roof geometries such as hip and gable roofs with no dormers. Use ring or screw-shank nails to fasten brick ties to increase nail pull-out resistance and prevent failure of brick veneer.

Secure your chimney. Masonry chimneys that extend more than 6 feet above the roof or have a width of 40 inches or more, should have continuous vertical reinforcing steel placed in the corners to provide greater resistance to wind loads. Permanently connect manufactured homes to its foundation to decrease damage from high winds. Significant differences in damages have not been observed between newer double-wide manufactured houses on permanent foundations and site built houses.

Permanent foundations for double-wide manufactured housing perform better than both double-wide and single units on non-permanent foundations. Of those manufactured houses on non-permanent foundations, double-wide units appear to offer a greater level of protection. This is because these units are harder to overturn and have interior rooms, while rooms in single units all have at least one exterior walls.

ER™ Emergency Ready Tornado/Hurricane Survival Kit

Seek shelter in a more secure location during storms is most important for occupants of manufactured homes. In the event of such storms, occupants of manufactured homes should follow the direction of emergency management and law enforcement officials and exit their home and seek shelter in storm cellars, basements, or above-ground shelters, when instructed to do so.

Shelters are the best means of providing near absolute protection for individuals who are attempting to take refuge during a tornado. Using existing hurricane-resistant technologies e. Shelter doors. At a minimum, shelter doors should be constructed of 14 gauge hollow metal and be held by six points of connection three hinges and three deadbolts. Ventilation openings should be constructed of heavy gauge steel or protected by heavy gauge shrouds or saddles to prevent their removal by the storm and the entrance of debris through the remaining openings.

Below-grade portions of the shelter should be waterproof. All shelters should provide access to persons with disabilities. Pets and Disasters. Make arrangements for your pets as part of your household disaster planning.

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  8. If you must evacuate your home, Always take your pets with you. But remember pets will not be allowed in public emergency shelters. Contact your local animal shelter, humane society, veterinarian or emergency management office for information on caring for pets in an emergency. Find out if there will be any shelters set-up to take pets in an emergency.

    Also, see if your veterinarian will accept your pet in an emergency. You will need a pet carrier that allows your pet to stand up and turn around inside. Train your pet to become comfortable with the carrier. That means:. How to Prepare for Tornadoes. Protecting Your Family. Talk about tornadoes with your family so that everyone knows where to go if a tornado warning is issued. Discussing ahead of time helps reduce fear, especially for younger children. Check at your workplace and your children's schools and day care centers to learn about their tornado emergency plans.

    Every building has different safe places.

    5. Prepare to enter your safe place

    Ensure that every member of your family carries a Safe and Well wallet card. Keep it nearby. Protecting your home. Make a list of items to bring inside in the event of a storm. Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased or damaged limbs, then strategically remove branches so that wind can blow through. Strong winds frequently break weak limbs and hurl them at great speed, causing damage or injury when they hit. Remove any debris or loose items in your yard.

    Branches and firewood may become missiles in strong winds. Consider installing permanent shutters to cover windows. Shutters can be closed quickly and provide the safest protection for windows. Strengthen garage doors. Garage doors are often damaged or destroyed by flying debris, allowing strong winds to enter. As winds apply pressure to the walls, the roof can be lifted off, and the rest of the house can easily follow. If you do nothing else: 1. Remember: no area of a mobile home is safe during a tornado. If you have access to a sturdy shelter or a vehicle, go there immediately, using your seat belt if driving.

    Then, if you can, do this:. Watch for tornado danger signs: dark, often greenish clouds — a phenomenon caused by hail; wall cloud — an isolated lowering of the base of a thunderstorm; cloud of debris. Move or secure any of the items on your list of items to bring inside or anything else that can be picked up by the wind. Bring your companion animals indoors and maintain direct control of them. If You Are Outdoors Seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building. If you cannot quickly walk to a shelter, immediately get into a vehicle and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.

    Remember to buckle your seat belt.

    Tornado Survival: No Shelter, No Basement, No Problem

    If strong winds and flying debris occurs while driving, pull over and park, keeping your seat belt on and engine running. Put your head down below the windows, covering your head with your hands and a blanket. If you do nothing else:. If evacuated, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.

    Pay attention to how you and your loved ones are experiencing and handling stress. Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control. Returning home safely. Stay out of damaged buildings. Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and report them to the utility company immediately. Cleaning and repairing your home. Wear protective clothing, including long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and sturdy shoes, and be cautious.