Tornado season begins in April and lasts through June, but actually tornadoes can and do occur in every month of the year. That’s why it is important to always be prepared.
The first step of tornado safety is to know the difference between a watch and a warning. These terms often confuse people. A watch always comes before a warning and indicates weather conditions are ideal for the development of a tornado. A warning means a tornado has definitely formed and has been sighted. The best way to remember the difference is to think of a watch as an advisement to be on guard.
The best time to take action is during a tornado watch. Once a tornado warning has been issued, you may not have enough time to get to safety.
If a storm hits while you are outside:
• Never try to outrun a tornado. Tornadoes can change directions quickly and can easily lift vehicles and toss them around, making vehicles potential deathtraps. Always get out and away from vehicles.
• Take shelter inside a building immediately, if possible.
• Find the lowest point possible. Lie in a ditch, ravine or low area or crouch near a strong building and cover your head and neck if you cannot take shelter inside.
• Leave mobile homes and get to a safe place. Mobile homes, like vehicles, can be tossed around by heavy winds.
• Be aware of potential flooding.
Once you have taken shelter in a building:
• Go at once to the basement, storm cellar or lowest level of the building. Go to inner hallways or smaller inner rooms without windows, such as bathrooms or closets if the building has no basement.
• Stay at the center of the room and away from corners because they tend to attract debris.
• Be mindful of where there is heavy furniture or appliances on the floor directly above you because heavy winds can weaken walls and floors.
• Get under sturdy furniture (i.e. workbench, heavy table) and hold on to it.
• Use your arms to protect your head and neck.
• Monitor the news from your local radio station for emergency information and instructions. Make sure the storm is completely over before leaving shelter. Tornadoes often hit in groups, and it is possible that only one of many tornadoes has passed.
For more information on tornado safety, visit the Country Financial website at www.countryfinancial.com.
Information provided by David Zach of Country Financial, 650 S. Prairie View Dr., Suite 200, West Des Moines, 515-223-7182