How to keep your family safe in a tornado

by | Dec 1, 2023 | Health and Wellness, Home and Living

When clouds loom overhead and winds pick up in your area, it’s crucial to keep an eye on the sky and an ear toward local news broadcasts. Capable of destroying buildings, uprooting trees and sending dangerous debris flying, tornadoes are rotating columns of air that extend from the base of thunderstorms to the ground.

With the potential to reach wind speeds greater than 300 kilometres per hour, these violent storms can wreak havoc on communities and put families in danger. Keep your loved ones safe with these tips to prepare for and shelter from tornadoes.

Pay attention to weather forecasts
Staying alert to the weather is always a good idea, particularly as strong thunderstorms build and approach your location. Check the forecast regularly to understand the risk for severe weather and, if possible, sign up for smartphone alerts or notifications.

Put a plan in place
Each member of your family should understand what to do in an emergency situation. Create a plan that includes where to shelter in the event of a tornado warning. Typically, this is a basement, storm cellar or interior room on the lowest floor of the home with no windows. If you have a safe room or storm shelter, which is a hardened structure designed to provide near-absolute protection in extreme weather events like tornadoes and hurricanes, this is the time to utilize it. Clearly define who is expected to gather emergency materials, such as flashlights, blankets, a first aid kid and extra food and water.

Understand watches vs. warnings
Key phrases from sources like Environment Canada include “tornado watch” and “tornado warning.” Make sure you understand the differences to react appropriately.

  • Tornado watch: Tornadoes are possible in or near your location. Review emergency plans with loved ones and be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued.
  • Tornado warning: A tornado is active according to sightings or weather radar. It’s time to take action and follow your family’s safety plan.

Build your home with resistant materials
If constructing a new home is on the horizon, consider the benefits of building with durable materials like insulated concrete forms (ICFs), such as Nudura ICFs made in Barrie, Ontario, which are a disaster-resilient alternative to wood framing. For areas prone to natural disasters, ICF walls provide superior strength to withstand extreme wind and impact damage from tornadoes and hurricanes. They also protect against wildfires due to a fire protection rating of up to four hours, compared to one hour for wood framing, and provide greater comfort, durability and lower life cycle costs compared to wood structures.

Shelter safely
When a tornado warning is in effect, acting quickly is crucial. If at home, head to the basement, safe room or interior room away from windows and, if possible, stay tuned to local news for updates. At school or the workplace, follow the guidelines in place from tornado drills and proceed calmly but quickly to the shelter location. If driving and unable to get to shelter, pull over and get down in your vehicle with your head covered or leave your car and seek shelter in a low-lying ditch or ravine.

Find more ways to protect your family from natural disasters at nudura.com/tornado-prep

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