We’re currently in the heart of tornado season. Surely, the Midwestern states come to mind as areas in the bullseye; however, all 50 states have experienced a tornado according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Here’s how you can take action if a tornado touches down while you’re on the road.
First, it’s important to know the warning signs of a tornado, which include:
- Large hail and heavy rain followed by a calm period and a sudden wind shift
- Low, dark clouds that appear to be rotating
- Deep rumbling that sounds like an approaching freight train
- Swirling debris on the ground
If a tornado touches down, admittedly, a car isn’t the most ideal place to be; however, drivers can try some of these alternatives to take cover.
- For tornadoes off in the distance, try driving away from the funnel cloud, moving at 90 degree angles from its path. See if you can find a sturdy building to seek shelter. Banks and fast food restaurants often work well because they have fortified structures like a vault or a freezer.
- When a tornado touches down nearby, drivers should not try to outrun it. If flying debris becomes a risk, pull over, duck down below the windows in the vehicle, keep your seatbelt fastened and cover your head with your hands or a blanket.
- As another alternative, you can pull over, exit your vehicle and take cover in a low-lying ditch on the side of the road if a tornado forms nearby. Again, cover your head with your hands or a blanket. You should only consider exiting your vehicle if you can do so safely.
When a tornado hits, refrain from taking cover under an overpass. Contrary to popular belief, overpasses don’t offer much protection from flying debris, which causes the most tornado-related injuries.
After the tornado passes, use extreme caution and avoid dangerous debris such as broken glass, nails and other sharp objects. Always stay away from downed power lines, because it can be impossible to tell whether they are live or not. Lastly, don’t enter buildings that have sustained heavy damage because they could collapse.
Caught in torrential rain? Check out our safe driving tips for wet weather.
By Mike Young