It's on everyone's mind -- what would YOU do if you thought your only answer to an approaching storm was to get in your car and outrun it?  Well, you would be making a really, really bad decision.  Sometimes we forget there are a lot of people around us who didn't grow up in Tornado Alley and might not know the basic rules of dealing with severe weather and possible tornadoes.  If more people knew, the story might have been very different last weekend when thousands of people tried to outrun a superstorm by getting in the car and heading south.  Here are the basics:

1.  Your Car vs. the Tornado:  Tornado wins.  There is NO safe option when caught in a tornado in a car, justslightlyless dangerous ones.  Your best bet is to get into a building or underground, if possible.  If you are caught in the car -- don't automatically assume the ditch is best.  If the ditch is not noticeably lower than the roadway, you are better off in your car.  If you do decide to ditch the car and try the ditch -- make sure you are watching out for rising water and possible flash flooding.  In the car:  put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands and a coat or blanket if you have one.  LEAVE YOUR SEAT BELT ON.  Don't try to get under a bridge -- you are more likely to get hurt from oncoming traffic and it really doesn't do anything.

2.Your Home vs. The Tornado: Depends on the type of home, the type of tornado and where you are when the storm hits.  There are around 1,300 tornadoes in the United States every year.  Despite our recent history, statistics say a tornado will never hit your home -- but the winds surrounding the cell could do just as much damage.  Here are the rules for storm safety:

  • Make a plan in advance.  Where does your family go?  What do they bring?  Do a drill once a month during storm season inside your home so everyone knows what to do.
  • Lowest level, interior room, no windows -- that is the basic rule.  Hallways and bathrooms are good.  If you have a bathtub that is in an interior room -- throw the kids in and pull a mattress on top.  Might sound crazy -- but it might save lives.
  • Mobile Home:  Tornado wins, every time.  Even if your mobile home is tied down, you're not in a safe place.  Make a plan today on where to go and what to do well in advance.

3. Never A Sure Thing: An EF-5 tornado can destroy everything and there isn't much you can do.  But, they are rare.  In our family, we assume every tornado warning will bring with it maximum damage.  Having that mindset means you are always prepared to the best of your ability.

Educate yourself!  Don't be afraid if you don't know.  Here are some great links to teach you about severe weather in our area and how you can best prepare: Tornado Safety Tips; Frequently Asked Questions about Tornadoes;   Identifying Super Storms; Inside Tornadoes.