If I told you a tornado was on the way and it would hit your facility in a few days, this Solutions article would certainly have a different meaning and impact to you, wouldn’t it? The reality is that tornadoes develop so rapidly that little if any warning is possible. A devastating tornado can appear in a thunderstorm with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Some tornados have a characteristic cloud of debris, but others are practically invisible. Whether you are at church or school, taking precautions before, during, and after a tornado can save you and the people around you.
Keeping an Eye on the Tornado – What to do Before a TornadoPreparing for a tornado should begin with building an emergency kit that consists of essential items one would need in the event of an emergency. When assembling your emergency kit, remember that your supplies such as food and water should be enough to last about 48-72 hours. Also remember that basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephone may be cut off for a few days. Use Adventist Risk Management’s (ARM) Storm Preparation brochure to help you get started.
To monitor the tornado and stay up to date on any changes, turn on the TV or radio for weather alerts and warnings. Look for the danger signs such as large hail, large/dark/low-lying clouds, and a loud roar similar to a freight train. These signs are a warning that the tornado is coming. Use ARM’s Storm Vocabulary to make sure you know exactly what to prepare for and whether or not evacuation is necessary.
Remember your shelter location and practice your drill. Know where you can take shelter in a matter of seconds, and practice a tornado drill at least once a year. Designate one or two locations where people will meet after the tornado has passed. Make sure everyone knows and understands where these sites are.
Seek shelter immediately! Most injuries associated with high winds are from flying debris, so remember to protect your head.
The time is NOW – What to do During a Tornado
At School or Church: Follow the drill. Go to a pre-designated area such as a safe room, interior hall, windowless room, or the lowest building level. Crouch low, head down, and protect the back of your head with your arms. Remember to move quickly but in an orderly fashion. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums. If there is not enough time to reach an interior area, get under the seats, desks, or pews and protect your head with your arms or hands.
Do not move when you think the danger has passed or when you think the tornado is over. An “all clear” signal should be determined ahead of time. Wait for this signal before moving from the safe zone.
It is finally over! – What to do After a TornadoRemain calm and alert. Listen to local officials for updates and instructions. If possible, check-in with family and friends. Keep your family, church congregation or students together and wait for emergency personnel to arrive. Once it is safe to move, meet at the designated meeting place.
Carefully render aid to those who are injured, and watch your step to avoid broken glass, nails and other sharp objects. Watch out for debris on the ground and hanging overhead. Stay away from power lines as they may still be carrying electricity. If you are trapped, do not move about or kick up dust. Tap on a pipe or wall or use a whistle, if you have one, so that rescuers can locate you.
If your location is without power, use flashlights or battery-operated lanterns rather than candles to prevent accidental fires.
Protecting Your Property from High Winds and TornadoesIt is recommended to proactively take action in preparing your properties for potential high winds or tornadoes. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has seven useful and relevant suggestions to assist with protecting your assets from these hazards:
- Reinforce and Replace Garage Doors
- Protect Windows and Doors with Covers
- Secure Composition Shingle Roofs
- Secure Metal Siding and Metal Roofs
- Maintain EIFS (exterior insulation finishing system) Walls
- Secure Built-Up and Single-Ply Roofs
- Remove Trees and Potential Windborne Missiles