Introduction: Tornado

What Is A Tornado?

A tornado is a violent windstorm characterized by a twisting, funnel-shaped cloud. It is spawned by a thunderstorm (or sometimes as a result of a hurricane) and produced when cool air overrides a layer of warm air, forcing the warm air to rise rapidly. The damage from a tornado is a result of the high wind velocity and wind-blown debris.

Step 1: Tornado Survivor Guide

It is often said that tornadoes are nature's most violent storms, and for good reason. Not only do tornadoes carry winds very strong, winds that can level buildings and carry cars through the air and often accompanied by lightning, heavy rains, and flash floods, and hail. When a tornado strikes, each choice can mean the difference between life and death. Here's how to survive these powerful storms.

1.    Prepare for a tornado. Even with significant advances in tornado prediction and tracking, you seldom have much time to prepare when a tornado actually strikes. Planning ahead is the most important thing you can do to improve your chances of surviving a tornado.


Move to any shelter.

At the first sign of a tornado, or if a tornado warning has been issued, stop

 An underground tornado shelter or a specially designed tornado safe room is the safest place to be during a tornado. Some homes, businesses, and schools in areas prone to tornadoes have these shelters. If you live in a high-risk area, consider building a tornado shelter or buying a prefabricated shelter.

If a tornado shelter is not available go to the basement of a building. Stay away from windows, and cover yourself with a mattress, cushions, or sleeping bags. If possible, get under a heavy table, which can protect you from falling debris. Make note of where very heavy objects are on the floor above you, and avoid the area beneath these, as they could fall through a collapsing floor.

In a building with no basement, avoid windows and go to the lowest floor and seek shelter in a small room (a bathroom or closet, for example) that is located near the center of the house, under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. Bathrooms can be particularly effective because they are fortified by pipes and you can lie in a bathtub. Regardless of where you are, crouch low to the ground or lie down, face down and cover your head with your hands and arms. Take cover under a strong table if possible, and cover yourself with a mattress, cushions, or blankets.

   If you are in a vehicle and a tornado is very near you, get out and seek shelter as soon as possible. Park your car at the side of the road, out of traffic lanes. Cars are not safe shelters, and as tornadoes can travel at more than 60 mph, you should not take the risk of attempting to outrun it. Mobile homes are also unsafe.

  If the tornado is far away and you aren't near a good shelter, your best option--if traffic allows--is probably to attempt to drive to shelter or at least out of the path of the storm. Pick a stationary object near you and watch how the tornado moves relative to that object. If the tornado is moving to your left, you should drive to your right if possible, and if it's headed to your right, drive to your left. If the tornado does not appear to be moving either right or left, it's either moving directly away from you or, if it appears to be getting bigger or closer to you, right at you. If it's moving at you, leave your car and seek safety as instructed above.

Remain in your shelter until the danger of tornadoes has passed. If possible, listen for advisories from the National Weather, Insivumen, weather radio or on local radio or TV. Keep in mind that multiple tornadoes often form in an area, and it may not be safe to leave shelter even after one tornado has passed.

whatever you're doing and seek appropriate shelter immediately, even if you don't see a tornado.

Exit your shelter carefully, and exercise caution moving around in a tornado stricken area. After a tornado strikes, you are likely to encounter hazards such as flooding, falling debris, collapsing buildings, and blocked roads. Avoid fallen power lines and puddles with wires in them, and avoid using matches or lighters in case of natural gas or fuel tank leaks. Be alert and proceed with caution, as there may be sharp objects scattered about the ground. Do not enter damaged buildings.

Step 2: TIPS

  • If your home has been hit by a tornado, turn off utilities, especially gas and electric, once the tornado danger has passed. If you smell something that is burning or if you see a spark, get out immediately. It could start a fire.

  • Remain calm and try to keep your family together during and after the tornado. Provide first aid as needed. Even get duplicate packs if necessary.
  • Contrary to popular belief, opening the windows of a house will not reduce tornado damage. In fact, it may increase damage from weaker tornadoes by drawing more debris inside the house.
  • Understand what a tornado watch and a tornado warning means.

   A tornado watch means that there is a threat of tornadoes within the accompanied area and that you should keep an eye on the news. A tornado watch usually comes after a severe thunderstorm warning and that the clouds could be capable of producing rotation that can eventually turn into a mesocyclone and then a tornado. Tornado watches are not as serious as a tornado warning but it does not mean that you should forget about it. Such clouds that are involved in a tornado watch are cumulonimbus and nimbus clouds. Keep an eye on the time as you can point out whether the clouds are dark or light depending on the time. 75% of the time, tornado watches will go out without any sign of tornadoes but if a tornado has been detected, read on.

         A tornado warning is much more serious. Tornado warnings mean that a sign of rotation has been detected on Doppler Radar and that you should take immediate action depending on the tornado's location and it's predicted (usually right) track. Don't worry; if the actual tornado has been sighted the tornado siren will sound throughout the entire area. Get the stuff needed in the kit in the Things You'll Need section of the article and you should be safe. Some people tend to call tornado watches a threat, tornado warnings mean a possible tornado has been detected, and tornado danger as the actual tornado touches down.

   Many tornadoes strike during the evening hours, be sure to have closed toe shoes either stored at your shelter location or ready to be put on in case of tornadic weather. In the aftermath of a storm there will be debris everywhere that can cause severe lacerations.

  • In large, multistory buildings without basements, interior stairwells are usually good places to seek shelter. Try to get to the lowest floor possible. A room in the center of your house or a bathroom is also good...why a bathroom? The "foundation" is reinforced by pipes, and the tornado's high winds will only damage it, and not completely destroy it.

  • Your pantry, if you have one, would be a good form of shelter but in really violent tornadoes (F4 and F5), watch out for stairs falling on you. If possible get under a really strong table. However, make sure that there is no mattress on the 2nd floor above your table. It will crush it, and the debris would get onto you.

  • The tornadoes that form over water, pose a special problem. While they are generally weaker and slower than tornadoes on land, it's not possible to seek shelter on the open water. If waterspouts have been sighted in the area, get out of the water, if possible. If you're in the water when a waterspout hits, experts recommend trying to avoid it by sailing at right angles to its path, not straight away from it. If a strike is imminent, it's probably best to dive overboard, as you then have a better chance of avoiding injury from flying debris, if your boat gets torn to pieces. If you are on land and a waterspout is very close to shore, you are not necessarily safe, for a waterspout may come on land; however, then they often become weak, but sometimes one won't become weak, going inland, but will become a tornado.

Step 3: Recommendations During a Tornado

If at home:

·         If you have a tornado safe room or engineered shelter go there immediately.

·         Go at once to a windowless, interior room; storm cellar; basement; or lowest level of the building.

·         If there is no basement, go to an inner hallway or a smaller inner room without windows, such as a bathroom or closet.

·         Get away from the windows.

·         Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench or heavy table or desk and hold on to it.

·         Use arms to protect head and neck.

·         If in a mobile home, get out and find shelter elsewhere.

If at work or school:

·         Go to the area designated in your tornado plan.

·         Avoid places with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums, cafeterias, large hallways, or shopping malls.

·         Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench or heavy table or desk and hold on to it.

·         Use arms to protect head and neck.

If outdoors:

·         If possible, get inside a building.

·         If shelter is not available or there is no time to get indoors, lie in a ditch or low-lying area or crouch near a strong building. Be aware of the potential for flooding.

·         Use arms to protect head and neck.

If in a car:

·         Never try to out-drive a tornado in a car or truck.

·         Get out of the car immediately and take shelter in a nearby building.

·         If there is no time to get indoors, get out of the car and lie in a ditch or low-lying area away from the vehicle. Be aware of the potential for flooding.

After The Storm

When a tornado is coming, you have only a short amount of time to make life-or-death decisions. Advance planning and quick response are the keys to surviving a tornado.

After a Tornado:

·         Help injured or trapped persons.

·         Give first aid when appropriate.

·         Don’t try to move the seriously injured unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.

·         Call for help.

·         If you smell gas, do not turn on any appliances or switches. This includes using phones, flashlights or a cell phone.

·         Turn on radio or television to get the latest emergency information.

·         Stay out of damaged buildings. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.

·         Use the telephone only for emergency calls.

·         Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, or gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the buildings if you smell gas or chemical fumes.

·         Take pictures of the damage–both to the house and its contents–for insurance purposes.

Step 4: Bibliography


Rodrigo Ávila

                                                                                                Camila Ahuat

Gabriela Salazar

      José Fabián Girón

         María José Gramajo

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