Growing up in southern Illinois, I have had my fair share
of encounters with tornadoes. Since the creation of Survive
Outdoors, I have had numerous questions asked of me regarding
tornado safety. As a child, I was taught to open windows to
equalize the pressure in the event of a tornado. This is of
a myth. If a tornado is that close, whether or not a window
is open will make no difference.
What is important is finding a predetermined location for
your family in advance of a storm, preferably surrounded by
concrete, such as a basement. It is helpful to have 3-4 four
mattresses to lie on top of yourselves, as flying debris causes
many injuries. I also recommend a radio. There are relatively
inexpensive radios that are hand charged and generated by
turning a crank. These are excellent, as many of us, including
myself, forget to exchange the batteries or have battery replacements.
Fresh water in jugs as well as canned goods are essential
to have on hand. If you only have canned goods, it is a good
idea to have a can opener in the same container. Large plastic
pans with sealable lids in which to place your perishables
as well as your emergency equipment, is helpful. You can label
the outside with a cross with pieces of red tape. Some basic
medication, bandages and medical tape are important for taking
care of basic wounds.
Next, let’s not forget about our pets. They should
be in the same area as you, tethered so they don’t run.
The majority of tornadoes frequently move from a southwesterly
to a northeasterly direction. Finding a position in a southeastern
corner of the home or basement would be ideal. Less debris
is going to be blown your way. Do not stay in mobile homes.
These are tornado magnets, even if tied down, and a tornado
can definitely take you for a good tumble in a mobile home,
causing severe injury. If camping outdoors, find a low area
in which to lie. It is not uncommon for tornadoes to skip
over these areas. Try to stay away from large trees to avoid
lightning strikes and trees falling down on you.
In recapping, some basic food and water is a must. A radio
is very beneficial, but not essential. Mattresses are essential
and important to protect you from falling debris. A small
basic medical kit is essential. Please review Survive Outdoors’
medical kit for further details. If you have pets, bring them
to your predetermined area in your home and tether them with
After a tornado has passed, be cautious! Should there be
any damage to your home, be aware of potential gas leaks.
Do not strike a match or use a lighter. Leave the home immediately
if there is any odor of gas. Other dangers include the debris,
specifically glass and nails that may puncture the skin, especially
the feet. If this occurs, be aware of your Tetanus status
and update, if necessary. Following storms, I have treated
many individuals with splinters and fractures from trimming
trees or removing fallen branches, as well as imbedded glass
shards, because appropriate care was not taken.