What is a tornado?
A tornado is a violent windstorm characterized by a twisting, funnel-shaped cloud. It is spawned by a thunderstorm and produced when cool air overrides a layer of warm air, forcing the warm air to rise rapidly. The damage from a tornado is a result of the high wind velocity and wind-blown debris. Tornado season is generally March through August, although tornadoes can occur at any time of year. They tend to occur in the afternoons and evenings. Over 80 percent of all tornadoes strike between noon and midnight. When a tornado threatens, individuals need to have a safe place to go and time to get there. Even warning times bay be short or sometimes not possible.
What should I do during a tornado?
If you are at home, 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. Be sure to get away from all windows. Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench or heavy table or desk and hold on to it. Use your arms to protect your head and neck. If you're in a mobile home, get out and find a shelter somewhere else. If you are outdoors, get inside a building if possible. 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 and use your arms to protect your head and neck.
Never try to out-drive a tornado in a car or truck. 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 away from the vehicle. Again, be aware of the potential for flooding.
What should I do after the storm?
You should always help injured or trapped persons. Give first aid when it is appropriate. Don't try to move the injured person unless they are in immediate danger. Call for help immediately. If you smell gas, do not turn on any appliances or switches. This includes using phones, flashlights, or a cell phone. Turn on your radio or television to get the latest emergency information. Make sure to stay out of damaged buildings. Use the telephone only for emergency calls. Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, or gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the building if you smell gas or chemical fumes. Remember to always help your neighbors who may require special assistance.