“Tornado Alley” is infamous for its devastating tornadoes, primarily during spring months. Did you know that the greater Cincinnati area also sees several touchdowns of its own each year? The Ohio townships of Anderson, Delhi, Miami, Milford, Oxford Xenia, and dozens more see an average of 2 tornadoes a year and this typically involves a fatality. Since 1950 there have been 111 events documented in the region. With so few affected, there’s been little published in the way of tornado safety advice for Cincinnati residents to pull from. Hence, we’ve put together the following tornado safety advice and tips to help protect yourself and your family from the dangers the winds bring:
Preparation Makes Perfect
This is by far the best tornado safety advice we can give because there are too many unknowns after a tornado. Luckily, being prepared for a natural disaster is pretty simple and fairly inexpensive. Assembling a survival kit and an emergency plan takes a few resources and little time. Be sure everyone in your household knows the plan and location of the kit. Due to the lower severity of our tornadoes, it’s fine to have a metal or rubber crate/bin in the garage as your kit. Easy access and glow-in-the-dark tape markings are a must! Be sure to look through your crate once or twice a year to see that the items look good and nothing has expired. Here are the bare minimum items you want in your kit:
- Crank powered flashlight (You may be able to find radio/light combos) – Great Product
- A blanket or two – Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets – Find on Amazon
- Water – Minimum of 7 liters per person in the household – Long lasting water pouches
- Painkiller – This is more for the headache you may be facing
- Insurance information – Policy number and claims center phone number
- Cash – $100 per family member is recommended
Tornado Watch vs Tornado Warning
A tornado watch simply means tornadoes are possible in the area; these are common during storm season. Be sure to check on your kit and review your plan with your family should a watch be declared.
Tornado warnings are serious. This means a tornado has been visually sighted or indicated by weather radar. You need to be ready for this by keeping a close watch/ear on information given. During a warning, stay away from doors, windows, and the outdoors. This is when you go to the safest place in your house and make sure you take your survival kit with you.
What Are the Signs of a Tornado?
Some potential indicators include:
- Intense heavy rain or hail followed by either a dead calm or an abrupt wind shift.
- Strong or persistent rotation in the cloud base plus any whirling dust or debris on the ground beneath the cloud base.
- A loud continuous roar or rumble that does not fade in a few seconds, like thunder does.
What to Do if a Tornado Is Approaching
Food storage and storm protection were the two main reasons homes in the Midwest were built with cellars/basements. Today they are bonus rooms and storage spaces but they’re the best place to go if a twister is coming due to the lack of glass windows and safety from falling branches and trees. Many rural homes may have storm shelters to take advantage of because these open spaces can get hit much harder. Should there be neither a storm shelter nor basement; go to an interior room such as a closet, hallway or bathroom with small or no windows. Try to cover your head with a blanket or jacket to guard against flying debris or broken glass. If you are in a mobile home, you should leave immediately and seek shelter elsewhere.
Caught outside? Crouch beside a strong structure or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area and try to cover your head and neck. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can.
Stuck in your car? Try to get out and run for better cover. If that can’t happen then stay in the car with the seat belt on, putting your head down below the windows while covering it with your hands and a blanket or jacket if you have one. If your car is quite small it’s still best to exit your car and lie in a ditch or under an overpass.
The Most Common Misconceptions about Tornadoes
The following tornado safety advice must be taken to heart:
- Open the Windows – This will not somehow “equalize the pressure” created by the tornado. Opening windows may actually pressurize the house and can cause the roof to be torn off!
- You Can See Them Coming – Tornadoes are not always visible from a distance. Rely on a weather radio for the latest information.
- No Thunder = No Tornado – Tornadoes are usually spawned by thunderstorms and have been known to occur without lightning.
- Tornadoes Cannot Skip Rivers – Wrong, they can cross a river or another body of water.
When Is it Safe to Go Back Outside After a Tornado?
It’s best to stay put or stay cautious as multiple tornadoes have been known to emerge from the same storm cell. Wait until the winds and precipitation have stopped and the roar of the storm has ceased.