If a Tornado Warning is issued, take shelter immediately. Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can uproot trees and buildings and turn harmless objects into deadly missiles. They can devastate a neighborhood in seconds.
A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Every state is at some risk from this hazard.
There are various precautions that can be taken to prepare for tornadoes. One of the most important is being aware of the four different tornado threats. Know these terms used to describe tornado threats:
- Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible. Stay tuned to radio or television reports.
- Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted. Take shelter immediately.
- Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Severe thunderstorms are possible.
- Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Severe thunderstorms are occurring.
How to Prepare
Purchase a N.O.A.A. Weather Radio with a battery backup and tone-alert feature which automatically alerts you when a Watch or Warning is issued. Purchase a battery-powered commercial radio and extra batteries as well.
Determine the best place to seek shelter. If an underground shelter is not available, identify an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor.
Practice going to your shelter with your family.
Know the locations of designated shelters in places where you and your family spend time, such as public buildings, nursing homes and shopping centers. Ask whether your children’s schools have been inspected for shelter space by a registered engineer or architect.
Have emergency supplies on hand.
Make an inventory of your possessions. Take photographs of or videotape your belongings. Keep records in a safe deposit box or some other safe place away from the premises.
In a house or small building, go to an interior room on the lower level (closets, interior hallways). Get under a sturdy table, hold on and protect your head. Stay there until the danger has passed.
In a school, nursing home, hospital, factory or shopping center, go to pre-designated shelter areas. Interior hallways on the lowest floor are usually safest. Stay away from windows and open spaces.
In a high-rise building, go to a small, interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
In a vehicle, trailer or mobile home, get out immediately and go to a more substantial structure.
If there is no shelter nearby, lie flat in the nearest ditch, ravine or culvert with your hands shielding your head.
In a car, get out and take shelter in a nearby building. Do not attempt to out-drive a tornado. They are erratic and move swiftly.
If you are outside when a tornado hits and there is no shelter nearby, lie flat in the nearest dry ditch with your hands shielding your head.
Look out for broken glass and downed power lines.
Check for injuries. Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of death or further injury. If you must move an unconscious person, first stabilize the neck and back, then call for help immediately.
If the victim is not breathing carefully position the victim for artificial respiration, clear the airway and commence mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Maintain body temperature with blankets. Be sure the victim does not become overheated.
Never try to feed liquids to an unconscious person.
Use great caution when entering a damaged building. Be sure that walls, ceiling and roof are in place and that the structure rests firmly on the foundation. Wear sturdy work boots and gloves.
Contact the Broward County Emergency Management Division at (954) 831-3900 about the tornado threat in your area. Ask about community warning signals.