In light of the recent tornado that devastated the small town of Moore, Oklahoma, everyone should assess their tornado preparedness at home and brush up on local warning signals. But what about tornado safety when you are traveling? Tornado season in the United States falls between May and August, the time when most people leave home for summer vacations. Knowing what to do when a tornado strikes anywhere, not just your hometown, could save your life.
1. Before departing on a trip, find out if your destination is in a tornado-prone area – like “Tornado Alley,” which is comprised of eastern Colorado and northern Texas; all of Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska; and parts of Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota. But remember: tornadoes can happen anywhere, not just in predefined zones.
2. Be sure you’ll have access to a television and/or radio where you’re staying so you can listen to weather reports and tornado warnings. Going camping? Handheld radios and TV sets are available online or at most outdoor sporting goods stores.
3. According to Nancy Parode at About:
Even if a tornado watch or warning has not been issued, you can train yourself to recognize the signs of potential tornadic activity. Dark, wall-like clouds signal possible tornado formation, especially when accompanied by large hail. If you see a swirling cloud or spiral of debris, take cover right away. Approaching tornadoes are not silent; the noise of a tornado has been compared to that of an approaching train. Funnel-shaped clouds dipping down from overhead are signs of an impending tornado. So, too, are sparking flashes of light, because they are likely created by sparks resulting from downed power lines. If you see or hear any of these signs, don’t wait for an official warning. Take shelter right away.
4. If a tornado does strike your vacation destination, get to a safe area as quickly as possible. If you are indoors, this means the lowest level of the building and away from windows. If you are outside, find a ditch to lay in while covering your head with your arms. Do not try to outdrive a tornado – abandon your car, get away from overpasses and power lines, and find one of the aforementioned ditches.
5. Once the tornado passes, proceed away from your sheltered location with caution as wounds from debris are the leading cause of tornado-related deaths.Also, you are already in an unfamiliar place, and shifted debris can disorient you even more
If you’d like to help the victims of the Oklahoma tornado, please follow this link for a list of charities that are accepting donations.