We are amongst tornado season, one of mother nature’s most violent storms. Developing rapidly with little to no warning, staying up to date on pre-cautionary measure before, during and after a tornado can help prepare us for what we may encounter. Did you know that tornados are most likely to occur near the end of a powerful thunderstorm? Don’t let the sunlight sky often seen after a severe thunderstorm trick you into thinking you’re in the clear. It is not uncommon to see rays of sunshine beaming through the clouds before, during and immediately after a tornado. So how should we prepare for something that gives us no warning and can completely devastate neighborhoods and our homes in a matter of seconds? You can start by having a family plan in place and an emergency kit. After a tornado, you may need to survive on your own for unknown periods of time depending on, if the effect was in your area and the severity of the storm. This often means having your own food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least 72 hours. Although local officials and relief workers will be on the scene, it’s hard to tell when they will be able to reach you, as they cannot help everyone at once. Stay alert for changing weather patterns and conditions such as change in the sky and large hail. Often prior to a tornado you can see the sky changing to a dark, often greenish sky. Look for large dark, low-lying clouds that hang lower than the rest of the dark sky. The low lying clouds also known as the “tails”, can drop to the ground in seconds, creating a loud roar, similar to those of freight trains. If you become under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately as most injuries that occur during a tornado are associated with high winds and flying debris. If you are outside with no shelter, try to get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt if you cannot get to a sturdy structure close by, pull over and park. Cover your head with your arms, coat or blanket if possible. Do not pull under an overpass or bridge, as you are safer in a low lying flat location. If you are in a structure such as a small building, residence, hospital, shopping center etc., try to get to the lowest level of the building (basement, safe room, cellar etc.) If there is no basement try to get to the center of the building on one of the lowest levels, specifically a closet, away from windows and doors. Put as many walls between you and the outside as possible. Again, use your arms to protect your head, or try and seek cover under a sturdy table.
After the tornado has passed, continue to listen to local news or NOAA Weather radio for updated information. Stay out of damaged buildings and watch for power lines or broken gas lines. Use battery-powered flashlights when examining damaged areas or buildings, and do NOT use candles. Try and take as many photos of the damage to both the building and its contents for insurance claims. As your local insurance agency, we are here to help make the claim process as easy as possible.