COLUMBIA, SC - When a tornado strikes, time is of the essence. Knowing what to do and how to prepare can help you and your loved ones stay safe.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has these tips for staying safe:
- Go to a basement or the lowest level of your home.
- Make sure you stay away from windows
- Get to the center of the room.
- Get under a sturdy piece of furniture like a work bench or heavy table and hold on
If you live in a mobile home, there are a few things that you can do to help protect your home from severe winds:
- Make sure the underpinnings on your house are secure.
- Verify that your tie-downs are driven in tight, between 40 and 60 inches into the ground.
- Check that the cinderblocks under your house are positioned where the installers put them.
If a tornado forms in your area, get as low as you can. While a basement is the best place to be, many homes and buildings do not have basements. The lowest floor of a building offers the greatest safety. And, put as many walls between yourself and the outside as possible. Avoid windows!
Homes or Small Buildings: Go to the basement or to a small interior room, such as a closet or bathroom, or an interior hallway on the lowest level. If available, get under something sturdy, like a heavy table. Protect yourself from flying debris with pillows, heavy coats, blankets, or quilts.
Schools, Nursing Homes, Hospitals, Factories, and Shopping Centers: Go to a pre-designated shelter area. Basements are the best, but interior hallways on the lowest floor usually offer protection. Close all doors to the hallway for greater protection.
Mobile Homes or Vehicles: Leave them and go to a strong building. If there is no shelter nearby, get into the nearest ditch and lie flat with your hands shielding your head. If you live in a mobile home park, check with your manager to find out where the safest place to take shelter is.
Stay away from windows! Don't bother opening or closing them. It won't protect the structure anyway. You'll just waste time and put yourself, and possibly others, at greater risk. Use those valuable seconds to find a place of safety.
Tornadoes often mean lightning, too. Stay away from anything that uses electricity. Stay away from anything metal. DO NOT try to outrun a tornado in your car. Tornadoes can pick up a car and throw it through the air. If you are in your car and a tornado approaches, get out of your car, lie flat in the nearest ditch, and cover your head with your hands.
Watch or Warning?
Watch: Tornado and severe thunderstorms are possible
Warning: Tornado spotted, take shelter immediately
What to look for: