Tornados are no joke, they destroy property and take lives. So, understanding the difference between a tornado fact versus myth is crucial for your safety and your family’s safety.
If you are driving, take refuge beneath a highway overpass.
NO! Do not do this. Because of the extremely high winds involved in a tornado, overpasses channel that wind, which increases its velocity. The National Weather Service Forecast Office states that, “Seeking shelter under an overpass is more dangerous than standing in an open field, while a tornado is approaching.” If you are caught in your car with an approaching tornado, seek shelter in a low-lying ditch or if possible, a building. Flying debris can gather beneath overpasses – another reason that an overpass is a dangerous spot to take shelter.
If a tornado is approaching your home, open your windows.
This is a myth from way back, and it is wrong! The original thought to this myth was that opening your home’s windows would decrease pressure within the home, thereby, reducing the risk the home would explode, or be damaged. This has since been proven false. It is a tornado’s high winds, as well as flying debris that damages your home, not internal pressure. But the most dangerous part of this myth, is the time it would take you to open all your windows. That time should be spent seeking immediate shelter. The faster you can take shelter in a storm shelter or interior room, the safer you will be.
Tornados cannot cross wide stretches of water, such as lakes or rivers.
Tornados can and do cross bodies of water. They can also form on water, creating deadly ‘waterspouts’. If you are boating, or fishing, be weather aware. If a severe storm is forming, get off the water and take cover. Keeping a weather radio with you, while you are on the water, is a very smart idea.
You can always see a tornado from far away.
Tornados are masters of disguise. They can very easily cloak themselves in rain, dirt and debris. They are especially difficult to see at night, which puts you at greater risk. This is the time to rely on local weathercasters. They have highly intricate systems that can tell almost exactly where a tornado is located. Keep your television or radio tuned into these lifesavers. Also, trust your instincts. If you see swirling dust or debris, assume it’s a tornado and take shelter.
The tornado looks like it is going away from us, so we are safe.
False! Tornados are extremely deceiving and can change direction with relative ease. You may be at a safe distance one minute, and directly in its path the next minute. Anytime you see a tornado, or what looks like a tornado, take shelter immediately. Oftentimes, when a tornado looks to be stationary, or moving away from you, it is actually headed toward you. Once again, tornados are deceiving, do not take chances.
My bathtub is the safest place for me to be in a tornado.
While bathtubs have historically been the “go to place” for safety, that has changed. As home design has evolved, bathrooms are now placed on exterior walls for the availability of windows and natural light. If you do not have a storm shelter, the most interior room of your home is the safest place to be. That may be a laundry room, or closet. Avoid rooms that have exterior walls and windows. Throw some bicycle helmets on the kids, and a small mattress to cover your bodies. If your bathroom is your most interior room, then go for it. If not, avoid it altogether and find a safer place to hide.
Tornados don’t strike cities.
Ohhhh yes, they most certainly do. A tornado can strike anywhere! Because of the ratio of rural areas, to cities, in the United States, it does seem as if rural settings take the brunt of storm season. But cities have been hit over and over again by destructive storms. Don’t think if you are in the city that you are safer – Moore, Oklahoma is evidence of this. If a tornado is headed your way, no matter where you are, take shelter immediately.
Tornados don’t hit the same place twice.
Once again – Moore, Oklahoma.
I don’t need a storm shelter; my city probably has one I can go to.
Believe it or not, most cities do not have community wide shelters. Some hospitals or community buildings will allow you into their basement, in case of a tornado emergency. However, driving during a tornado warning is risking your life. Unless you happen to be in immediate proximity of one of these designated shelters, stay put and seek shelter where you are.
If it doesn’t have a funnel cloud, it’s not a tornado.
Whether a funnel cloud is visible or not, a tornado can still be destructive. Rotating wind and circulation can still reach the ground and cause damage to homes and take lives. If there is a high risk of tornados in your area, it is critical that you stay tuned into your local weather cast. And never assume you are safe if your area is under a tornado warning, or tornado sirens are blaring. If in doubt, take cover.
Tornados only occur in the Spring or Fall.
False. Tornados can occur at any time of year. In fact, severe storms have been documented during snowstorms (often called thundersnow), and during droughts in summer. Staying weather aware will keep you safe year ‘round. And as with any season, if your area is under a tornado warning, take shelter.
I can outrun a tornado in my car.
It is a sad fact, that the above statement has caused many fatalities on the road. While your car may be capable of speeds up to 100 mph, the unreliability of a tornado will stop you in your tracks. Tornados can race, unfettered, as fast as your car can drive. They can also quickly change direction, putting you directly in their path. Remember, you will also have other obstacles to consider such as traffic lights, other cars and fleeing pedestrians. There is never a safe reason to try to outrun a tornado. If you know a tornado is approaching, leave your vehicle and take shelter elsewhere. Or better yet, don’t get into your car if your area is under a tornado warning.
Separating fact from fiction is critically important in keeping you and your family safe during tornado season. Take some time to educate yourself on the facts. It may save your life, or the life of someone you love. You might also consider getting a storm shelter. They have become extremely affordable, and some states even offer grants to families, for the installation of a storm shelter (such as Oklahoma’s Sooner Safe program). Don’t wait until it’s too late, know the difference between tornado myths and tornado facts.
If you are considering installing a storm shelter, please visit us at: OKC Shelters for further information