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As Texas Cleans Up After Tornadoes, A Few Tips On Twister Survival

November 5, 2010 by  

As Texas cleans up after tornadoes, a few tips on twister survivalWhile the Midwest was battered by a powerful storm last week, a series of tornadoes ripped through northeast Texas, injuring people and damaging property. Twisters can appear on their own or in conjunction with storms or hurricanes, but, regardless of their origin, American families should know how to protect their lives and livelihood during these natural disasters. 

Most tornadoes last less than 10 minutes, but they can be extremely destructive, so it is important to know what to do — and what not to do — when they strike.

Roger Edwards from the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., has sought to dispel the myth about opening windows during a tornado to equalize pressure. He says that, just as in the case of a violent storm or a hurricane, doing so can increase the risk of serious injury due to flying glass. In fact, people should avoid windows, and this also holds true for those who hide in a shelter or a basement.

Another mistake individuals sometimes make is hiding under a bridge. However, this does not offer a good protection against flying debris. In the absence of a nearby shelter or a sturdy building, it is best to lie face-down on low ground and cover one's head.

During an extreme weather event such as a tornado, cars and other vehicles can be very dangerous, as they are often violently tossed about by the spinning column of air. Individuals who encounter a twister while driving should exit their vehicle and move away from it. It is also important to stay away from trees, which can be uprooted and blown around.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, tornadoes kill about 60 people each year. 

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  • bruce

    “During an extreme weather event such as a tornado, cars and other vehicles can be very dangerous, as they are often violently tossed about by the spinning column of air. Individuals who encounter a twister while driving should exit their vehicle and move away from it.”
    Wrong. The interior of a car doesn’t qualify as a storm shelter but it will defend against debris and wind a lot better than a T-shirt and jeans. Even if the wind picks the car up and it barrel roles down the highway, so what? You had your seatbelt on, right? Let the car protect you the same way it does in a trafic accident. Would you rather hit something at 45 mph with a car around you, or without? I don’t know why people keep saying “Get out of your car and lie in the ditch.” Drive your CAR into the ditch. Then – leaving your seatbelt on – assume the lowest profile you can. If the tornado can suck that car out of the ditch imagine what it could do to human bodies. Imagine being violently tossed about in a car and thinking “I would be safer if I wasn’t in this car.” Your car is your suit of armor. It’s not great. But it’s better than nothing. It’s amazing how long silly advice can go on without being contested.
    BTW In a tornado it’s the small light weight debris that’ll get you. The smaller and lighter it is the faster it will be. You’ll never see a 200 mph engine block – if the twister can even get it off the ground.

  • AZ-Jazz

    I agree with Bruce – Also, this was supposed to be a “what DO you DO” not “what NOT to do”. Stay in the car & get low. Also, if you can get tucked up tight against the bottom of a bridge in the edge joint area where you can get between the beams IS better than the open ditch. You have to get up in the very small area though.

  • Killian

    Well its just like the idiots that tell you to get under a table during an earthquake! These morons don’t have a clue about real life! I’ve been in lots of earthquakes and made sure I was not in some stupid doorway or some moronic position under a stupid table, and so when these IQ challenged morons start giving advice I simply chalk it up to them trying to rub two brain cells together to make heat, not intelligence. Duh!!!!!!!!!!

  • Killian

    Not to make light of the topic, but I’ve also been around twisters for many many years and the funny thing is, you never know how bad it will be until you’re the one in it. So I will give you some good advice get all the way under a bridge you know where the girders are. Put your back against one side and your feet against the other, cover your face and do not I repeat do not start looking around. Because if you get debris in your eyes your screwed for further action if your life depends on moving quickly. You keep your hands over your eyes and take quick looks around, making sure to keep your hands cupped at the sides of your eyes, and keep your eyes squinted for more safety. As far as using your car as protection, yes its better to drive into a ditch and hope your car protects you instead of clothes. As far as lying on flat ground, anyone who does this is going to most likely die from either debris or from being picked up and ripped apart, or thrown against something so hard you will be killed or worse crippled for life. So when these so called experts start talking, they are doing it from there other mouth, not the one where you put food in.

  • Killian

    And for the best and most safe thing to do! Is pay the hell attention to your surroundings so you don’t end up having to deal with these things, The old sayings were said for a reason. Plan for the worst, Pray for the best, Luck favors the prepared And if you can’t chew gum and walk at the same time well heaven help you. It’s not like tornadoes just suddenly appear! There are cloud patterns that have similar characteristics with all tornadoes, so when you see these storm patterns appear get your asses out of the area and find protection. How much brain power does that take? Duh. And if for some reason you’re driving and your brain is not paying attention to its surroundings then die and good riddance, You know you can’t fix stupid, all you can do is kill it or hope it dies on its own merits. WAKE THE FFFEN UP PEOPLE. GEEES.

  • bruce

    Hey Killian – chill out. We’re not at war with experts. We’re at war with people who never question experts. Hence my statement “It’s amazing how long silly advice can go on without being contested.” Experts are imperfect humans just like us and they can be wrong sometimes just like us. But they’re at the sharp end of whatever their specialty is. Chip Wood is one such “expert” whom I depend on because I don’t have the time-money-conections-wherewithall to do the same thing on my own. I also depend on Reason magazine, Liberty magazine, the Libertairian Party and others to paint an accurate picture of reality in my mind for me. I give them all a “very long leash” because they’ve earned it. But I never let them off the leash. Yes there are evil selfish liars out there. But our concern should be with the ocean of intellectually lazy people who give the liars their power.
    Back to tornados: My theory (not researched) is that the “Get out and lie in a ditch” advice originated in the ’50s with no evil intent, and that all this time people have been warping the laws of physics in their mind in order to make the advice “true”, i.e. they let the “expert” is off leash. They don’t even realize they’re doing it. I should know. I once believed that gun control would probably reduce crime. I’ve now been an NRA member for 28 years. You don’t have to be STUPID to be brainwashed. You just have to have no alternative source of info. IT’S OUR JOB TO PROVIDE THAT ALTERNATIVE. (And we will seldom need the words STUPID IDIOT and MORON to do it)

  • bruce

    Oh, I almost forgot to ask. Killian, you indicate that it’s a bad idea to get in a doorway or under a table in an earthquake. Being born and raised in Kansas I’ve never felt the earth move and therefore have no firsthand insight on this topic. Note that this is not adversarial. So calm down and tell us what you think we SHOULD do in an earthquake, and why.

  • Earl, QUEENS, NY

    Another fact about tornados, unlike hurricanes, is that they have a narrow path, and can devastate a city block while leaving the next block unharmed. As you may have heard, there has been some unusual tornado activity here in New York the past few years. Sadly, these twisters are happening in fine working class neighborhoods, such as in Brooklyn. It would be nice if Mother Nature set better targets, such as the FDR Drive at 42nd Street, which is the UN headquarters. Better yet, target the proposed Muslim Mosque site near Ground Zero!!

  • misguided

    Earl, That is a good post.

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