6 min read
Weather the storm, whether you’re at home or on the go.
A thin funnel stretches down from the charcoal sky. The swirling vortex of water, dust, and debris touches the ground and charges ahead. You should steer clear of this storm. Spring might bring sunny days and chirping birds, but it’s the start of tornado season, which peaks in April and lasts through June.
Prepare yourself for tornado season to stay safe before, during, and after a storm.
Before the Tornado
Stay Alert During Tornado Season
They say knowledge is power, so it helps to know how powerful tornadoes get. In 2017, tornadoes caused $649 million of damage in the United States.
This isn’t all about costs, though. It’s about keeping your family safe and knowing what to do before the worst scenario happens.
A tornado watch tells you the current weather conditions could lead to a tornado in the area. During this time, you should move your disaster kit into your shelter room if you’re not already storing it there.
You don’t have to wait for a tornado watch to prepare for a storm. Ready.gov suggests you keep the following items in a disaster kit:
- Can opener
- Closed-toed shoes
- Dust masks
- First aid kit
- Important papers (Social Security cards, birth certificates, insurance information, etc.)
- Pet supplies (food, leashes, carriers)
- Phone, computer, and chargers
- Portable weather radio
- A three-day supply of food
- A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day)
Home Inventory List
You should document everything you own for insurance purposes. A tornado could damage your home and your possessions, and you don’t want to guess when reporting values to your insurance company. Use an app like Sortly or Encircle to create a digital list of your possessions, or take pictures with your camera phone and document item details in a notebook.
Keep one copy of your home inventory list in a safe location outside your home, and give a second copy to your insurance agent.
Have you recently made any renovations to your home, such as finishing the basement, remodeling the kitchen, or updating electrical systems? If you haven’t reported these changes to your insurance agent, there’s a good chance your homeowners coverage isn’t current. Instead, your coverage will reflect the value of your home before the renovations took place.
When you don’t report updates, you won’t receive the full value of the home in the event of a total loss. Remedy this situation by keeping your insurance agent informed of renovations.
During the Tornado
A tornado warning is issued after a tornado been sighted in the area. At this point, you don’t want to linger outside or take it slow while bringing your animals inside.
Strong winds could pick up heavy items and send them flying your way.
Go to the basement, a small interior room, or a hallway on the lowest level. If possible, crouch under something sturdy like a heavy table or staircase.
Avoid the corners of the room and stay away from windows because strong winds can shatter glass and cause severe injuries.
In Mobile Homes
Mobile homes aren't rooted to the ground on a foundation the way regular homes are. A tornado can easily lift a mobile home and toss it a few miles.
You're better off leaving the home and seeking shelter under a substantial structure if there's one nearby, though you should never seek shelter under trees. If no shelter is available, find a culvert or ditch and lie flat in it with your hands protecting your head.
Leave your car when a twister breaks out. Try to find substantial shelter or a deep depression in the ground where you can lie flat and cover your head. Never seek shelter under a bridge or highway underpass, as these can weaken and create dangerous falling debris.
Tornadoes travel as fast as 60 to 70 mph and change directions without warning, so don’t try to outrun them in your vehicle.
Schools offer reliable shelter from tornadoes because of their sheer size. There are many interior hallways and stairwells away from windows that provide protection from heavy winds and debris.
Avoid large spaces like gymnasiums and cafeterias, as debris travels through these areas and causes injury. Never go outside onto playgrounds or into parking lots, and always follow the school's storm safety procedures.
The danger increases when you move up in the building. Do your best to seek shelter on the lowest level without overcrowding or creating an additional unsafe situation.
After the Tornado
Making It Through the Aftermath
Hopefully, the tornado will pass on and do minimal damage. When you think the storm has passed, tune into your local weather channel. You’ll need to know if another tornado is on its way or if more dangerous weather is arriving soon.
Check your surroundings and help anyone who is injured, but leave the serious injuries to medical professionals. If you find someone who has stopped breathing, only administer CPR if you’re trained to do so.
Once you confirm you’re in the clear, reach out to your loved ones through text message or social media and let them know you’re okay. You may be tempted to call, but weather could prevent the call from going through.
You also have the option of registering you and your family on the American Red Cross Safe and Well site.
Inspect Your Property
If you’re at home, inspect your property for damages such as:
- Downed powerlines (stay away from them but report the issue to your utility company)
- Frayed wires, sparks, and other signs of electrical damage
- Gas leaks
- Spilled medicine, gasoline, and other flammable liquids
- Structural collapses
After you know your family is safe, reach out to your insurance agent to report damages.
Before a storm strikes, review your homeowners insurance with your local Pekin Insurance agent.