Friday, April 29, 2011

Tornado Safety

With the recent outbreak of devastating tornadoes that hit the South, your children might be wondering about tornadoes: how do they form, could this happen here, and what they should do during a tornado.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), here are some facts about tornadoes:
  • Peak season in the southern states is March to May
  • Peak season for northern states is late spring to early summer
  • Average speed is 30 MPH, but can vary between 0 and 70 MPH
  • The path of a tornado can reach over a mile wide and 50 miles longs
  • Come from strong, powerful thunderstorms
  • It's possible for every state to be affected by tornadoes

They also have information on their website about what to do before and during a tornado.

  • Pay attention to weather signs that indicate dangerous weather
  • Dark, usually greenish sky
  • Large hail
  • Large, dark, low-lying cloud
  • Loud roar (like a train)
  • Listen to radio or news--if they mention storms approaching be prepared to act fast. Have a plan in place so your children know what to do (There's a reason we practice tornado and fire drills.)


The FEMA website lists what to do depending on what you're in at the time. If you're in a building, go to the lowest level like a basement. If a basement isn't available go to an inside room on the lowest possible level. Stay away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Get under a table and protect your head and neck with your arms.

If you're outside or in a vehicle, try to get into the nearest building. If that's not possible lie flat in the lowest possible area around, like a ditch. Don't seek shelter under an overpass or bridge.

FEMA has more information available on their site about what to do after a disaster and helping a child coping with distress. Even children who haven't lived through the experience but seen it on TV might experience distress.

If your child would like to learn more about tornadoes, check out these books at our library:

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