Recognizing if one may be imminent; how to survive one
Tornadoes are swirling fingers of cloud in which the air motion reaches speeds up to 500 miles per hour. They move over the earth at 5 to 40 miles per hour. Preludes to a tornado are a gathering of huge, dark storm clouds (often tinted green), a sudden silence among animals, insects, and birds. and the appearance of enormous hailstones followed by large raindrops. A tornado begins when part of a cloud bulges downward, forming a funnel.
If you live in a tornado-prone area, you should prepare a specially designated shelter. The best is a storm cellar 15 to 20 feet from the house. It need not be large-8 x 6 x 7 feet high will accommodate eight people. Reinforced concrete is best for the walls, but split logs, cinder blocks, or bricks can also be used. Make a sloping floor with a drainage outlet, and build the shelter deep enough to have at least 3 feet of packed earth above the ceiling. Set the doors preferably to face northeast (most tornadoes approach from the south) and to open inward. The basement is the next safest place. If possible, reinforce a small area of the basement by adding an extra wall.
Equip a shelter with a battery-operated radio, a flashlight, batteries, water, canned food, and a first-aid kit. Surviving a tornado
If you think you are the first to see a tornado, notify the nearest National Weather Service office or the police or sheriff. At home, open windows a few inches if there’s time, but don’t go near the windows if the tornado is close; they may explode. Go to a storm shelter or basement. If you can’t, proceed to a small room with strong walls on the ground floor. A bathroom offers extra protection because of surrounding pipes. If you’re caught upstairs, take shelter in an interior hallway.
In a public building, move to a small room or closet in the northeast corner. If caught in the open, move away at a right angle from the path of the tornado. If escape is impossible, lie facedown in a ditch or depression.