Tornado Preparedness Tutorial

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Tornado Preparedness Tutorial

The number of tornadoes passing through our country has been increasing by the year, while the disasters have gotten more and more violent.

This is unfortunate and I my heart goes out to everyone who is suffering or has suffered due to nature’s rage. But one of the crucial reasons why so many people are now in this difficult situation is the fact they didn’t prepare for this event. I’m not here to throw the blame on them. Perhaps they didn’t know how to prepare. That’s why I want to make sure you, the ones who are reading this right now, do know exactly what to do to minimize the damages of a natural disaster of such proportions.

Here are the measures you need to take, step by step:

Items you must have with you:

• Flashlight
• Batteries
• Battery-powered radio
• Self Powered Radio
• Self Powered Flashlight
• Glow sticks
• Clean clothes
• First-aid kit
• 5-10 gallons of water
• Non-perishable foods

What you should do for your family’s protection:

#1: Know when a tornado is coming even without a warning

Tornadoes are extremely unpredictable, so it’s best if you didn’t rely on official warnings only. There are a few signs that tell you a tornado is coming, so if you notice any of the following, start preparing (you don’t need to flee the town, but just make sure you’ve got survival kits and a safe place to go to together with your family):

• Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base.

• Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base — tornadoes sometimes have no funnel!

• Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can’t be seen.

• Day or night – loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn’t fade in a few seconds like thunder.

• Night – small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). These mean power lines are being snapped by very strong wind, maybe a tornado.

• Night – persistent lowering from the cloud base, illuminated or silhouetted by lightning — especially if it is on the ground or there is a blue-green-white power flash underneath.

#2: Make a plan

Ideally, you should have a planned way before a tornado hits your area (and especially if you’re traveling to an area where tornadoes happen often). But if you don’t, you should make one ever since you hear the first warning.

You don’t need a complicated plan, just a few basic stuff you need to discuss with your family. For example, do you bug out to another town until the danger is over or do you stay home? If you bug out, then you need to do it FAST, before it starts. If you decide to stay, you need to choose a safe place to take your family to. A place that can keep them secure and unharmed all throughout the disaster.

The crucial thing here is to put as many obstacles between you and the wind. The best place to hide when a tornado is imminent is in your basement. But if you don’t have a basement, you should head to an interior bathroom (without windows!) or a walk-in closet on the lowest floor of your house. Make sure your whole family can fit in there, each member with his/her own survival kit.

For extra protection, you should all wear bike helmets on your head and wear thick clothes to minimize any risk of getting injured. Also, cover yourself with blankets, for the same purpose of staying completely unharmed. It may look ridiculous, but don’t forget it’s better to be fully protected than to be forced to rush to the hospital when a tornado is right outside your door.

Warning: Do NOT open your windows! I know some people believe this will keep them from breaking, but opening your windows can only make things worse. Once the wind enters your home, you can kiss your roof good-bye! And, obviously, the possibility of getting injured by flying debris goes through the roof, as well.

#3: Stay well locked inside

The first rule to follow when a tornado hits your town: Do NOT drive!

Being in a car during a tornado is one of the worst situations you can get yourself in. The wind could flip your car any second and you can get squished under the scraps. So if you’re thinking of bugging out, as I said before, do it BEFORE the disaster begins. Otherwise, just stay indoors and don’t come out until it’s over.

However, if you happened to be in your car when the tornado hit and there’s no way you can get home, follow these instructions:

Do NOT take shelter under an overpass or bridge!
This is a myth that has already killed too many people. An overpass can turn into a wind tunnel and you’ll become the living target of flying debris. Also, there’s the possibility of seeing the whole structure collapse on your car, as the tornado can weaken its integrity.

Drive away from the storm

According to, you can only attempt to flee a tornado that is far away and not moving towards you. To gauge the tornado’s movement and direction, compare it to a fixed landmark like a telephone pole or tree in the distance. If it’s moving right or left, as opposed to remaining still and getting bigger, it’s not heading towards you. Drive off at a right angle from the direction it’s going. Basically, you’re trying to put as many miles between you and the tornado as possible.

Never ever try to compete with a tornado that is heading towards you! Many have tried and almost all of them failed. It doesn’t matter if you were heading for some important meeting or if your kids are at home, scared as hell, and you’re trying to get there fast. I know it sounds awful, but you won’t be of any help if you’re dead and buried under a pile of debris, so hurry away from the storm and let it cool down. Your family needs you alive and well, so be selfish in situations like this.

As a bonus, here are some very useful mobile tools that you can use to stay safe throughout the disaster, via CNN:

NOAA Weather Radio

Getting advanced warning of impending tornadoes is key. If the electricity goes out and you can’t watch weather updates on TV, you can switch to a battery-powered radio or fire up the NOAA Weather Radio app ($3.99). This app streams more than 200 NOAA broadcasts and adds in additional information including radar, push notifications, emergency warnings for your state and detailed weather reports.

NOAA warns against depending entirely on the Internet to receive warnings and recommends having a radio that can receive the Weather Radio band (between 162.400 MHz to 162.550 MHz) to ensure you always have the latest information. Android users can download a similar NOAA Radio app ($0.99).

Tornado by American Red Cross

Just as important as knowing when a tornado is coming is knowing what to do to keep your family safe. The free Tornado app from the American Red Cross is a thorough app that includes advice on what to do to prepare for and recover from a tornado. In addition to clear step-by-step instructions, there is a quiz on preparedness, live tornado warnings with a map, tools like an alarm and a flashlight and historical information on tornadoes in your area.

After the storm has passed, you’ll know how to handle flooding, electrical outages and find Red Cross shelters. This app also uses data from NOAA. Available for Android and iOS devices.

TornadoSpy+: Tornado Maps, Warnings and Alerts

For a more proactive, crowdsourced approach, try the TornadoSpy+ iPhone and iPad app ($2.99). In addition to getting official weather reports from professionals, this app lets you report and upload photos of any tornado or hail activity you spot yourself. You can see reports from other people in your area, track storms on a map, rate other spotters, and receive real-time alerts.

Local weather apps

In states where severe weather is common, many local news channels have dedicated weather apps that show live radar, constant updates, local maps and more. For example, people in Cincinnati, northern Kentucky and southeast Indiana can download the storm tracker app for the local Fox19 news station. Look up your local stations to find the best option in your area for either Android or iOS.

First Aid by American Red Cross

If something does happen to you or your family, this free app will walk you through administering proper first aid. There are easy-to-follow instructions for treating bleeding, burns, heart attacks and other injuries. You can use the numbered instructions or watch videos to learn basic first aid.

While a useful app for any situation, it also includes safety tips specifically for bad weather and natural disasters, including tornadoes. It’s all downloaded with the app so you don’t have to have an Internet connection to use it. Its 911 integration allows you to make emergency phone calls directly from the app. Available for Android and iOS.

Tornado Chasers

Know how to read the signs that come with dangerous weather. TheTornado Chasers app ($.99) is a crash course on how tornadoes work. It includes diagrams of the inside of a twister and a visual guide to all the types of clouds you might spot in the sky.

This iPad app also includes maps of national weather warnings for the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, and you can drill down to find the latest information for your specific area. There are detailed photos and videos showing the signs of tornadoes along with written descriptions.


A one stop app for all alerts, Nixle pushes the latest advisories from more than 5,000 public safety agencies, such as your local fire department. Messages are given different priority levels and mapped out. Alerts within a certain proximity to your home, or any other locations you choose, will be pushed through. The service can also be used through a free iPhone app, online, via text or by e-mail.

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