While 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.