If a tornado was headed towards your home, would you know which room to go to for shelter?
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the United States gets an average of over 1,000 tornados per year. In fact, tornadoes have been documented in every state. The phenomenon is part of a severe convective storm which strikes all over the planet. So contrary to popular belief, you don't need to be in Kansas to experience one.
Of course, many homes aren't outfitted with a tornado shelter. But with the right preparation, you can outsmart what's headed your way. Here's where to take shelter depending on where you are when a tornado hits.
Inside Your Home: Go to the Basement
According to the NOAA, if you're in your home during a tornado, you should go directly to the basement but avoid windows, as to stay clear of any broken glass. Also, you're protecting yourself from falling debris as much as from the tornado itself, so be sure to stay under a table or mattress if possible. Additionally, if you're aware of the location of heavy items in your home -- refrigerator, piano -- do not stand under them in the basement.
Inside a Home With No Basement: Lowest Floor Possible
In case your home has no basement, you can still steer clear of the storm. Go to the lowest floor and find a small central room -- avoiding windows -- like a hall bathroom, closet or even under a stairwell. Anything you can do to shield yourself from fallen debris is helpful, like crouching in a bathtub, covering your head with your hands or wrapping yourself in a blanket.
Inside a Mobile Home: Get Out
Don't think you can be an exception to the rule that tornadoes show no mercy for mobile homes. According to the NOAA, tornados can destroy even tied-down mobile homes, so your best bet is to get out fast. Instead, seek shelter in a nearby building or secured structure.
In a Theater or Church: Get Under the Seats
If you do find yourself in a theater or church during a tornado, getting under seats or pews is the smartest thing to do. Luckily, pews are actually quite sturdy. Also, be sure to stay towards the middle aisle to avoid any windows.
By Joan Casanova, Bonnie Plants,
Photographs courtesy of Bonnie Plants
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