Tornado Tips From A Native North Texan
Personally, I would never consider myself a "tornado expert" but I had several of my colleagues mention that my next blog topic needed to be about some of the tips and tricks I've learned over my time in North Texas on how to stay safe during a tornado. This is not an exhaustive list - nor is it backed by data or statistics - this is just a list that I thought would be helpful to those who may have never experienced a tornado of this caliper before.
When you hear this from the News, they mean for you to find a room with internal walls and plumbing. Internal walls are less likely to topple over from an outside force. If you do happen to get hit, it’s best to hold on to plumbing because it is securely underground, and you would have less probability of getting blown away.
If you are in an apartment, the complex should have a plan in place for those on higher floor levels (you want to be as low to the ground as possible in a tornado)
If they don’t, it’s a good idea to make friends with your neighbors.
My boyfriend, while he was in College Station, lived in an indoor-outdoor facility. His neighbors beneath him would come upstairs to his place if it was potentially going to flood and my boyfriend and his roommate would go hangout with them if there were possible tornados. They were lucky to have that safe space to go to when there was severe weather.
During a tornado – or any form of extreme weather – it’s not safe to be on the road in your car. And you definitely should not try to outrun the weather. Not only could this cause a wreck, but if a tornado caught up to you, with the 100mph winds it will easily pick up your vehicle.
Your safest option is: if you are in a vehicle when they tell you take shelter – either exit and find a place to take shelter in (if you have enough time) – or get out of your car and lay in a ditch with your hands covering your head and neck area. Move away from the road and your car as far as you can.
While In Your Safe Space
With so many precautions that Texas builders put in place for natural disasters – many homes will be fine if a tornado occurs. However, there are cases like Sunday night where you do need to prepare for the worst because not many buildings can withstand F3 tornados or above.
Always have a full charged flashlight
Turn your phone volume on (not vibrate or silent) in case someone needs to find you.
Bring your wallet/identification – if you need to go to the hospital, God forbid, it is much better to have this on you so others can identify you.
Text loved ones so they know where your safe place is. Make sure you text and not try to call.
Have a battery powered radio to listen to updates
After the Tornado
Do not go try to find the storm damage – let the first responders do their job. If you are in or near the storm damage, then call your first responders to let them know your area was hit.
Another thing I would like to mention are the downed powerlines. A huge reason why first responders do not want you near storm damage is because of these downed powerlines. These broken lines are still conducting electricity from the source but are essentially storing it up in the puddles of water near them. Stepping in these puddles - that you probably can't see because of all the debris - can be fatal.
With the events that unfolded Sunday night, many people will experience storm anxiety. Many of my friends have storm anxiety – specifically with tornados - because of the tornado that hit my hometown, Rowlett, TX in 2015. Pets and young children are most likely to experience this, but adults are at risk as well. It is a very real fear to those that have been victims of storm damage. You are not alone.
We at Genesis are very grateful that our team members, their families, and their homes were relatively unaffected during the storm. We write this to our friends whose first tornados may have been Sunday. We’re here for you and we hope these tips will alleviate your concerns during any other big storm we may have in the future.