Tornadoes Strike Quickly; People Should Be Prepared

Severe Weather While Driving – How to Stay Safe
The free Red Cross Tornado App gives users instant access to local and real-time information.

The tornadoes that have hit in Oklahoma, Texas and other states in the past few days are a reminder that tornadoes can strike anywhere, at any time, and the best time to get ready is before the weather turns bad.

Experts warn that weather patterns can change quickly, and people should stay informed about any severe weather forecast for their community. The American Red Cross has safety steps people can take to be prepared should tornadoes threaten.

DOWNLOAD TORNADO APP One thing people should do is download the free American Red Cross Tornado App, available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross. The app gives mobile-device users instant access to local and real-time information, so they know what to do before, during and after a tornado.

The app includes important things like a high-pitched siren and tornado warning alert that signals when a NOAA tornado warning has been issued. This feature allows users to make critical decisions and to take actions to help keep themselves and their loved ones safe even in the middle of the night. An all-alert lets users know when a tornado warning has expired or has been cancelled.

WARNING SIGNS Although severe tornadoes are more common in the Plains states, tornadoes have been reported in every state. Everyone should know the tornado danger signs, such as dark, often greenish clouds, a wall cloud, cloud of debris, large hail, funnel cloud or a loud, roaring noise. A tornado watch is issued when a tornado is possible in or near a specific area. A tornado warning means that a tornado has been spotted and that people should immediately seek shelter.

SAFETY STEPS The Red Cross urges everyone to pick a safe room in their household where loved ones and pets can gather, such as a basement, storm cellar or interior room on the lowest floor with no windows. Mobile homes are not safe during tornados. If someone is in a mobile home, they should get to the nearest sturdy building or shelter immediately—do not wait until the tornado is visible. People should also:

  • Know their community’s warning system.
  • Prepare for strong winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees.
  • Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.
  • If someone is caught outdoors, they should seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building. If that’s not possible, they should take the following steps:

  • Get into a vehicle immediately, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If flying debris occurs while driving, pull over and park. They can stay in the car with the seat belt on with their head down below the windows, covering their head with their hands and a blanket if possible.
  • If it is possible to safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, another option is to exit the car and lie in the low area, covering their head with their hands.
  • Your choice should be driven by your specific circumstances.
  • More information on tornado safety, including videos and downloadable checklists, is available in the Preparedness section of redcross.org.

    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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