Tornadoes are common in Wisconsin and worth taking seriously.
The most violent tornadoes are capable of tremendous destruction
with wind speeds of 250 miles per hour or more. Damage paths
can be in excess of a mile wide and 50 miles long. When a
tornado is coming, you have only a short amount of time to
make life-or-death decisions. Advance planning and quick response
are the keys to surviving a tornado.
tornado is defined as a violently rotating column of air extending
from a thunderstorm to the ground. It usually forms when weather
is warm, humid and unsettled, and often in conjunction with
severe thunderstorms. Direction of movement usually is from
the southwest to the northeast, but a tornado's path may be
erratic. Likewise, tornadoes tend to occur between 3 and 8
p.m., but they may occur any time.
tornado drills each tornado season. Designate an area
in your home as a shelter and practice having everyone in
the family go there in response to a tornado threat. A basement,
storm cellar or lowest level of your home is best. If there
is no basement, use an inner hallway or a small inner room
without a window, such as a bathroom or a closet.
you live in a mobile home, plan to take shelter in another
building with a strong foundation. Some mobile home
parks provide shelter for residents. If your park does not
have a community shelter, consult with the management and
request that one be provided.
the difference between a "tornado watch" and a "tornado
tornado watch is issued by the National Weather Service
when weather conditions are such that tornadoes are likely
to develop. When a watch is announced, you should listen
to the radio or television for further developments; keep
a battery-powered radio on hand in case electrical power
is lost; and tie down loose objects outside or bring them
tornado warning is issued when a tornado has been sighted
or indicated by radar. At this point, the danger is very
serious and everyone should go to a safe place, turn on
a battery-operated radio or television and wait for the
"all clear" by the authorities.
emergency supplies on hand.
and extra batteries
battery-operated radio and extra batteries
kit and manual; essential medicines
food, water, cooking equipment, can opener
and credit cards
an emergency communication plan. In case family members
are separated during a disaster because of work or school,
choose a long-distance relative or friend to serve as the
"family contact." After a disaster, it is often easier to
call long-distance than to make a local call. Make sure
everyone in the family knows the name, address and phone
number of the contact person.
are at home during a tornado:
at once to the basement, storm cellar or the lowest level
of the building. If there is no basement, go to an inner
hallway or a small inner room without a window, such as
a bathroom or a closet.
away from windows.
to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because
they tend to attract debris.
under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench or
your arms to protect your head and neck.
work or school:
to the basement or to an inside hallway at the lowest level.
wide rooms such as auditoriums, cafeterias or large hallways.
under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench, heavy
table or desk.
your arms to protect your head and neck.
possible, get inside a building.
shelter is not available or there is no time to get indoors,
lie in a ditch or low-lying area or crouch near a strong
your arms to protect your head and neck. If in a car
try to outdrive a tornado. Tornadoes can change direction
quickly and can lift up a car or truck and toss it through
out of the car immediately and take shelter in a nearby
building, ditch or low-lying area away from the vehicle.
leaks. If you smell the putrid odor of leaking gas, leave
your home immediately and call the gas company. Lanterns,
torches, electrical sparks and cigarettes could cause an
explosive fire if there is a leak. Do not turn on any light
Check utility lines and appliances for damage. If electrical
wiring appears damaged, turn off the current at the main
fuse box or circuit breaker.
damage. Watch for falling debris and the possibility of
If water pipes are damaged, do not use water from the tap;
it may be contaminated. Damaged sewage systems should be
serviced as soon as possible - they are health hazards
Your local emergency government office, the American Red Cross, your county Extension office, the Wisconsin Division of Emergency Government, the Federal Emergency Management Agency
"Tornado Awareness," Wisconsin Division of Emergency Government, 1991.
Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in
NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in
NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder.