A shoreline being battered by hurricane winds

Hurricane Season Won’t Stop, Even During a Pandemic

No matter what else is happening in the world—pandemic, recession, civil unrest—you can be sure of one thing. We’ll still have to plan for hurricane season. Hurricanes, like tornadoes, aren’t going to stop forming just because our headlines are focusing on other events. And they aren’t going to be any less deadly, either.

The Atlantic hurricane season officially lasts from June 1st to November 30th, generally peaking in September. Of course, hurricanes, like tornadoes, don’t always respect the calendar and can form outside of these months.

Hurricanes, and the tornadoes, high winds, and flood waters that they bring with them, won't take a break this year (or any year). So it’s up to you to be as prepared as possible. Know where your nearest community shelter is. Make sure, also, that it will be open to you. And figure out exactly how you’ll get there.

You should also have a hurricane preparedness kit ready. And because we are still in the midst of a pandemic, your complete kit should contain additional pandemic-related items. Read on to learn more about hurricanes and the extra precautions you can take to protect yourself during the 2020 hurricane season.

Hurricane Basics

First of all, we should say a bit about hurricanes themselves. Hurricanes are huge, rotating, low-pressure storm systems (tropical cyclones) that form over tropical or subtropical ocean waters. They bring with them strong winds and heavy rainfall. These hazards can cause tornadoes, flooding, and the associated potential for loss of life and destruction of property.

You may recognize a hurricane by the distinctive “eye” in its center. This is an area of calm surrounded by the storm’s fierce rotation. The “eyewall” which encircles the eye, closest to it, has the strongest winds.

A hurricane has winds that blow at 74 mph or higher. Tropical storms have winds just below that, falling in the range of 39-73 mph. Tropical depressions have winds that max out at less than 39 mph.

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale divides hurricanes into five categories (labeled category 1-5) based on their sustained wind speeds. Any storm designated category 3 or above (those with winds at or exceeding 111 mph) is a “major hurricane.” Category 5 hurricanes can have sustained winds exceeding 180 mph and gusts that reach 200 mph.

A shoreline being battered by hurricane winds

Are Hurricanes, Cyclones, and Typhoons Different?

We have used the word “cyclone” in talking about hurricanes. You may be wondering what the difference is between a hurricane and a cyclone. And, how do typhoons fit in?

Hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons are all the same types of storm systems. This is true even though we use the word “cyclone” generically to describe large rotating storms. The differences lie in where they originate. Hurricanes form in the North Atlantic Ocean or in the Caribbean, and also on the North American side of the North Pacific Ocean. Typhoons are storms that form in the North Pacific Ocean but closer to Asia. Rotating storms that form in the Southern Hemisphere and throughout the Indian Ocean (even the parts of it that are north of the equator) are known simply as cyclones.

Incidentally, the winds of tropical cyclones move counter-clockwise north of the equator and clockwise south of the equator, due to the Coriolis Effect.

Hurricanes Versus Tornadoes

Unlike tornadoes, hurricanes can be tracked well before they strike land. Their movements are more predictable. Whereas tornadoes may strike with little to no warning, meteorologists often identify hurricanes days before they make landfall. Tornadoes may rampage through an area quickly—destroying homes in as little as four seconds—while hurricanes may linger for days.

Because meteorologists track hurricanes and warn members of the public in advance of their arrival on land, evacuation from the soon-to-be-affected area is a real option for most people. But there are those who are not able to evacuate, for a variety of reasons.

For these people, a dedicated storm shelter is still the best protection against the heavy winds and flying debris that these severe weather systems bring.

Community Storm Shelters and Hurricanes

Yes, Survive-a-Storm designs and builds our storm shelters to be strong enough to protect occupants during a hurricane, and, of course, from tornadoes that are spawned by hurricanes.

It’s important to note, however, that FEMA guidelines call for different occupancy numbers for hurricane shelters compared to tornado shelters. That’s because hurricanes are much longer-lasting storms, meaning that persons seeking shelter may need to do so for a greater length of time.

FEMA P-361, which provides guidelines for community safe rooms, advises that a standing or seated person be allotted at least 20 square feet of floor space in a hurricane shelter. This is a fourfold increase over the space that this same person needs to have in a tornado shelter (that is, five square feet). Individuals in wheelchairs and those in medical beds also require more space in community safe rooms during hurricanes (20 square feet and 40 square feet, respectively, compared to just 10 square feet and 30 square feet).

Community Storm Shelters, Hurricanes, and COVID-19

If you can’t evacuate to escape the projected path of a hurricane, then a dedicated storm shelter is the safest place for you to be. At Survive-a-Storm, we design, build, and install our storm shelters to withstand the strongest winds any hurricane or tornado can bring.

Some of you may worry about taking refuge in community shelters during the COVID-19 pandemic. We always stress that a shelter is still the safest place to be when severe weather is heading your way. This is true for both hurricanes and tornadoes.

We repeat: Don’t let your fears about the pandemic prevent you from taking proper shelter during a hurricane. You should take refuge in a community shelter if a hurricane is headed your way. Do this just as you would if your county were placed under a Tornado Warning.

Hurricane Preparedness Kits and Extra Precautions

There is no reason why you can’t (and shouldn’t) protect yourself from both severe weather and the pandemic. One way to do this is to take additional precautions when assembling your hurricane preparedness kit.

Under normal circumstances, a hurricane preparedness kit should contain, at a minimum, water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, a NOAA weather radio, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, and any prescription medications you or your family members will need.

In the age of COVID-19, you should equip your hurricane preparedness kit with some additional items that can help you to stay safe while seeking refuge in a community storm shelter. Remember that you may be sheltering in close quarters with others. Make sure that your kit has a supply of masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. It’s wise to play it safe, wherever you are.

Survive-a-Storm Will Keep Your Community Safe

Whether you’re seeking a community storm shelter to protect your business, your school, your mobile home park, or your neighborhood, Survive-a-Storm has you covered. We have above ground shelters, underground shelters, and transitional shelters to protect your community, no matter who's in it.

Contact us at 1-888-360-1492 today! Find out how we can protect your community from hurricanes, tornadoes, and other severe weather events.

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Answers to Some Basic Questions about Storm Shelters

If you’re considering buying a storm shelter to protect your family, the employees at your small business, or the members of your community, you probably have a lot of questions. Here at Survive-a-Storm, we’ve got answers!

And you can definitely trust Survive-a-Storm to give you dependable answers. After all, multiple Fortune 500 companies including Walmart and 3M, as well as the DoD, have all turned to Survive-a-Storm to protect their employees and service members.

Here are some answers to a number of general questions about severe weather and storm shelters.

What is my risk for extreme winds and other severe weather?

As we have noted before, tornadoes have struck all 50 U.S. states.

That said, of course some regions of the country are more prone to severe weather than others. The proven historical danger to the place where you reside should greatly inform your decision to invest in a storm shelter.

Two of the country’s most vulnerable areas are known as Dixie Alley (covering much of the Southeastern U.S.), and Tornado Alley (which coincides roughly with the Great Plains Region). This vulnerability is based on FEMA’s wind zone assessment.

What are wind zones?

FEMA’s Wind Zone Map divides the United States into different geographic zones according to the strength and frequency of the windstorms that each area has traditionally endured. This categorization is based on more than 150 years of tracking hurricanes and 60 years of tracking tornadoes that have struck each area.

Individuals, communities, and businesses in Zones III and IV are considered to be at high risk for damage from extreme winds. FEMA has declared that a safe room or storm shelter is the best method for protecting life in these zones.

Which states are in the zones most at risk for extreme winds?

Zone IV (the most vulnerable zone) includes the entirety of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Arkansas, as well as the majority of Oklahoma, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Significant portions of Alabama, Texas, Wisconsin, and Michigan also fall into Zone IV, as do parts of Louisiana, Nebraska, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.

Much of the rest of the area east of the Mississippi River falls into Zone III, excluding New England and some parts of the mid-Atlantic states. Zone III extends westward nearly to the Rocky Mountains.

In addition, FEMA designates the entire Gulf Coast and the whole Atlantic Coast of the U.S. as a “Hurricane-prone Region.” These coastal areas are also considered high-risk. FEMA advocates the use of storm shelters for residents there on this basis.

Black text on a yellow sign that says "Questions Answers"

What else should I consider before I decide whether or not to buy my own storm shelter?

If you do live in a zone that is prone to extreme wind events but you’re still on the fence about getting your own storm shelter, you may want to ask yourself a few questions.

For instance, if the National Weather Service announced a Tornado Warning for your county, where would you go to take refuge?

If you don’t have your own residential storm shelter, is there a community storm shelter in your area? Do you know how to get there? Are you sure that you’ll have access to it?

What is the level of risk you’re willing to tolerate? And is it really worth it to play fast and loose in the face of such danger?

What’s the difference between a residential shelter and a community shelter (other than the obvious)?

The main difference between a residential storm shelter and a community shelter is that the former will normally be found in private homes while the latter will be used by businesses and communities such as mobile home parks.

From a more technical standpoint, FEMA defines a community safe room as one that will protect more than 16 people. Any shelter whose occupancy is 16 or lower is considered a residential shelter.

FEMA and ICC guidelines dictate that each tornado shelter occupant have three square feet of space. This is how Survive-a-Storm determines occupancy numbers for our shelters.

I’ve seen strong storms before. Couldn’t I just ride the storm out somehow with what I’ve got?

Are you willing to chance it? And where will you ride the storm out, exactly?

Mobile homes are definitely not sturdy enough to withstand the winds that most tornadoes bring with them. Quite simply, they will never provide adequate protection when severe weather hits.

Similarly, a vehicle is not a safe place to be either. Don’t think that you can outrun a tornado in a vehicle. Tornadoes are both fast-moving and unpredictable. It’s not worth the risk.

When it comes to protecting yourself from a tornado, you need to find a solid structure. The sturdier the building, the better.

Unfortunately, tornadoes have been known to demolish entire homes in just four seconds. This is something that even relatively “weak” tornadoes in the EF2-EF3 range (with winds not exceeding 165 mph) can do.

The interior rooms of your home will be safer than those with windows, and basements will also provide a bit of extra protection from winds and flying debris. Of course, even basements do not guarantee safety, and many homes in tornado-prone areas are not built with basements anyway.

Are tornado shelters really that much safer?

In a word, yes.

Your best protection when faced with severe weather is a dedicated storm shelter. Period. Full stop.

But if I do invest in my own residential tornado shelter, how will I know it’s actually going to give me the protection it promises?

Your tornado shelter will protect you even in the face of the strongest tornadoes…if it was made by Survive-a-Storm!

These aren’t just words. We have the evidence to back it up.

Survive-a-Storm is a member of the National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA). All members of the NSSA must submit the shelters they manufacture to a rigorous peer review conducted by other engineers. This includes having our shelters undergo demanding tests at the National Wind Institute at Texas Tech University.

No tornado shelter made by any member of the NSSA has ever failed. This means that no shelter produced by Survive-a-Storm has ever failed. Again, no shelter manufactured by Survive-a-Storm has ever failed, even when enduring an EF5-level tornado event, one in which the tornado's winds exceed 200 mph.

How can I learn more about Survive-a-Storm’s tornado shelters?

Check out Survive-a-Storm’s extended FAQ page to learn even more. Then reach out to us to find out how you can protect your loved ones from the hazards of severe weather. You can count on Survive-a-Storm.

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A picture of a protective face mask

You’re Always Safer in a Storm Shelter, Even During a Pandemic

The threats associated with the Coronavirus known as COVID-19 are dominating the news cycle. But it’s important to remember that, even during the pandemic, other deadly hazards haven't gone away. It’s spring, and tornadoes and other severe weather events are still ravaging the United States.

Yes, COVID-19 is real. But its ongoing presence absolutely does not mean that you don’t have to worry about other life-threatening dangers.

You Should Always Seek Shelter

When severe weather is coming your way, you can and should take every action to protect yourself. Always treat Tornado Warnings as immediate threats and respond accordingly.

If you own a residential storm shelter—either an above ground shelter or an underground shelter—make sure that you and your family use it.

Individuals who do not have their own residential storm shelters may be able to access a community storm shelter in their neighborhoods. Be certain that you know where your nearest available community storm shelter is long before severe weather bears down on your area.

The Prevalence and Destructive Power of Tornadoes

Although tornadoes can strike on any day of the year (as we have noted before) there are, of course, times when they are more prevalent. And the springtime months of April, May, and June normally bring with them the severe weather that is most likely to cause tornadoes.  

Sadly, we have already witnessed ample evidence of the destructive power of tornadoes on more than one occasion this year. First, in and around Nashville in March. Next, in 10 different states (mostly in the Southeast) on Easter Sunday and the following Monday. These are just a couple of deadly examples. The 2020 Easter tornadoes caused 32 fatalities, making them the deadliest rash of tornadoes since 2014.

Tornado Safety Takes Priority, Even in This Time of Social Distancing

As you and your family try to stay mindful of social distancing measures, remember that the acute and imminent threat of a tornado strike takes priority over the ever-present dangers posed by the Coronavirus.

If the National Weather Service issues a Tornado Warning for your area, and you have access to a storm shelter—even a community storm shelter that may fill up with many of your neighbors—you should definitely take refuge in the shelter.

To repeat: It is essential to take any and all action to protect yourself from tornadoes at all costs, even during a pandemic.

A picture of a protective face mask

The Alabama Department of Public Health Says to Take Shelter

On its official website, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) makes the following statement regarding tornado shelters and COVID-19:

At this time, ADPH is recommending that citizens' first priority should be to protect themselves from a potential tornado. If a warning is issued in your area, you are more likely to be affected by the tornado than the virus. Thus, people should heed tornado warnings and take appropriate shelter.

The ADPH goes on to say that individuals who need to take refuge in a storm shelter can still be mindful of social distancing and respiratory hygiene while there. You can still wear your mask inside the storm shelter and avoid touching others who are also using the shelter for protection.

In other words, you can and should take steps to ward off these two dangers—tornadoes and COVID-19—at the same time.

The American Meteorological Society Recommends Taking Shelter

Via an official statement adopted by the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Council on April 9, 2020, the AMS makes its pandemic-era position clear:

Do not let the virus prevent you from seeking refuge from a tornado.

The AMS advises all members of the public to make plans to protect themselves from the threat of severe weather, including locating the nearest community storm shelter if that is their best option for a safe haven.

(Remember that mobile homes are not a safe place to be during a tornado. If you reside in a mobile home, decide where you will take refuge before severe weather comes your way.)  

Persons who rely on community storm shelters should also take the extra step to confirm, in advance, that their shelter will be open during the pandemic. Members of the public can do this by contacting their local emergency management agency or by checking official websites and their affiliated social media accounts.

The AMS goes on to say that all persons who may need to take refuge in a community storm shelter during a tornado should also familiarize themselves with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help thwart the transmission of COVID-19.

Community Storm Shelters Save Lives

Many people have their own residential storm shelters where they can take refuge during severe weather. Others at least have basements or interior rooms without windows where they can go to shield themselves from flying debris and the other destructive effects of the high winds that tornadoes bring.

For those who do not have the option of their own safe room, a community storm shelter is still the best place to be during a severe weather event. This is just as true during a pandemic as it is under otherwise normal circumstances.

Survive-a-Storm is a World Leader in Community Storm Shelters

There are many reasons why Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies as well as the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Air Force turn to Survive-a-Storm when they need to protect their employees and service members. Those reasons are quality, dependability, strength, a proven track record, and Survive-a-Storm’s ability to provide the perfect shelter solution to meet the needs of every organization.

All of Survive-a-Storm’s shelters are built to meet or exceed FEMA’s strict guidelines. If you need a storm shelter that will protect your family, your employees, or the members of your community from the 250 mph winds that tornadoes can bring, trust Survive-a-Storm.

Survive-a-Storm has a number of different underground community storm shelter models. If you’re a small business striving to safeguard just 16 people from violent storms, we’ll keep you safe. Even if you have to protect more than 1,500 people, Survive-a-Storm has the expertise to protect you from tornadoes and other severe weather. We also have above ground community storm shelters and relocatable transitional community shelters to protect employees who work outdoors in remote areas.

Reach Out to Survive-a-Storm

What do the DoD, private businesses, utility companies, schools, mobile home parks, and other communities all have in common? They all trust Survive-a-Storm to provide them with a customized community storm shelter to keep their people safe!

Contact Survive-a-Storm today and learn what we can do to protect you.

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Tornado Warning Signs and Preparation

A first-aid kit with the American Red Cross logo on it

Tornadoes, as we have pointed out before, can form on any day of the year, and at any time of the day. And, although some regions are more prone to these destructive twisters than others, tornadoes have struck all 50 states. Of course, if you live in Tornado Alley or Dixie Alley, the threat of deadly tornadoes is greater than in most other parts of the country.

Unpredictability is one of the main features of tornadoes, and a huge reason why they are often so deadly. If a tornado is rampaging across the landscape, we can’t say which direction it will head or how long it will even last. These dangerous storms often give very little warning before their formation.

That said, there are conditions that favor the formation of tornadoes. Being able to spot them, and having a mind to respond quickly and appropriately, may literally mean the difference between life and death for you and your loved ones.

How Tornadoes Form

Scientists still don’t know everything about how tornadoes form and how they die. What they do know is that thunderstorms normally give birth to tornadoes, and that storms require the clash of warm humid air which rises to meet colder air higher in the atmosphere.

Once a thunderstorm becomes a supercell, or a meteorological system that has a large rotating vortex within it known as a mesocyclone, conditions become more favorable for tornado formation. The next stage involves an updraft that sets the mesocyclone spinning vertically. When this cloud-based rotating column spins rapidly enough and then makes contact with the ground, it becomes a full-fledged tornado.

Tornadoes Often Strike with Very Little Warning

Obviously, if you see a huge funnel cloud in the sky, that’s a sign of impending tornado danger. You may also hear a roaring sound that resembles a freight train, and see flying debris. Unfortunately, sheets of heavy rain can often make it difficult to spot hidden, accompanying tornadoes, thus reducing what is already often a very short warning period.

Large hail and a sky that looks almost green may also serve as warning signs of an impending tornado. Of course, these components are not surefire indicators, nor are they in any way necessary for tornado formation.

Twisters can spring up with little notice and won’t always visible. And since most of us aren’t dedicated storm chasers, we have to depend on meteorologists, governmental authorities, and other specialists to give us advance notice.

Fortunately, we are better at forecasting tornadoes than we used to be.

Tornado Watches and Tornado Warnings

You have probably heard the terms “Tornado Watch” and “Tornado Warning.”

If the National Weather Service has issued a Tornado Watch for your area, this means that conditions are right for tornadoes to form. The area covered by a Tornado Watch might include multiple counties or even an entire state.

A Tornado Warning indicates that an actual tornado has been observed via radar or firsthand by a trained spotter (often a first responder or a public utility worker). The area covered by a Tornado Warning is typically smaller than that encompassed by a Tornado Watch, indicating imminent danger.

Advance Tornado Preparation

Even before the National Weather Service issues a Tornado Watch or a Tornado Warning you should be prepared for one. Have a designated storm shelter in place, emergency supplies stocked, and a readymade plan for getting yourself, your family, and your pets to safety.

And you should practice for the worst-case scenario. Run tornado drills at home so that you aren’t stuck figuring things out in the middle of an actual twister.

Consider this: Most of the tornadoes that struck Nashville and other parts of Tennessee during the first week of March 2020 did so in the middle of the night. Waking up to a Tornado Warning and an impending twister is not the best time to start figuring out a preparedness plan.

What Should You Do in the Event of a Tornado Watch or a Tornado Warning?

If you live in an area under a Tornado Watch, it’s time to prepare yourself and your family to take shelter. Double check your safe room and all of your emergency supplies.

Your tornado preparedness kit should definitely include a flashlight (powered by batteries or a hand crank), a battery-powered radio (for monitoring the latest weather alerts), extra batteries, a first-aid kit, and any necessary prescription medications. Having a reserve of potable water and canned food is also a good idea.

In the event that the National Weather Service upgrades their alert to indicate a Tornado Warning, then it’s time to put your plan into action! Get to your shelter immediately, and remain there until authorities declare that the danger has passed.

Where Not to Go in the Event of Severe Weather

There is a long list of places that you absolutely should not be in the event of severe weather, if you can possibly avoid them.

If you live in a mobile home, you should leave it and get to a sturdier building. Find out ahead of time if your neighborhood or mobile home park has a community shelter where you and your family might be able to take refuge.

A vehicle is not a good place to be either. If you’re on the road when severe weather hits, try to get to a truck stop or some other well-built structure. Avoid trying to ride out the storm under a highway overpass as this won’t protect you from being struck by flying debris or swept away by floodwaters.

A Dedicated Storm Shelter is Best

The best way to protect yourself and your family from tornadoes is with a storm shelter specifically designed for that purpose. If you’re in your home and the authorities issue a Tornado Warning, but you don’t have a shelter, at least move away from any and all windows and get as low and as far from exterior walls as possible, making sure to protect your head and neck.

Obviously, you will want to have your safe room securely in place and stocked with any necessary supplies before the threat of severe weather arrives.

Consult the safe room professionals at Survive-a-Storm. We can help you decide which shelter is most appropriate to meet your needs. With above ground storm shelters and underground storm shelters available, we’re confident that we can provide the best solution for you.

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Dark clouds from severe weather indicating possible tornadoes

The Nashville Tornadoes Show that Tornado Season Could Be Any Day of the Year

Yes, tornadoes, like hurricanes and many other natural phenomena, do technically have a "season." In the United States, tornado season generally falls in the spring, during the months of April, May, and June. Higher numbers of tornadoes form in these months compared to other times of the year. Tornadoes are often more intense during these months as well.

Although there are more tornadoes in the spring compared to the other seasons, that doesn’t mean that other seasons are tornado-free. In fact, tornadoes can strike on any day of the year.

Sadly, this truth was on vivid display during the first week of March 2020.

Deadly Tornadoes Strike Tennessee

Starting just before midnight on March 2nd, and extending into the early hours of March 3rd, a series of tornadoes struck central Tennessee. The worst one was an EF4 in intensity, meaning that it had winds that exceeded 165 miles per hour.

This was declared the deadliest tornado event in seven years, even before authorities were finished assessing the full extent of the damages. (Not since the EF5 tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma in 2013 had a tornado brought such fatal destruction.)

Multiple counties in Tennessee experienced fatalities, including Putnam, Wilson, Benton, and Davidson (which is home to the city of Nashville). Putnam County was the hardest-hit, enduring 18 fatalities. These tornadoes that hit Tennessee were part of a larger onslaught, as tornadoes also touched down in communities in Kentucky, Missouri, and Alabama.

Two days after this severe weather event, at least 24 people had been declared dead. As a result of the storms, tens of thousands of residents lost power, and hundreds of buildings got destroyed, including people’s homes. The tornadoes even adversely affected Super Tuesday voting at some polling places in Tennessee.

Condolences and Gratitude in Trying Times

Obviously, the death toll in Tennessee is profoundly troubling, and we at Survive-a-Storm extend our deepest sympathies to the families and communities affected by this horrible tragedy. We also express our gratitude to law enforcement, firefighters, and other first responders, as well as (extra)ordinary citizens who rushed in to help their neighbors in need.

But in the face of such devastation, the path forward, after mourning and recovery, needs to include preparation. The sobering truth is that tornadoes will strike other communities in the United States. And the heart of “tornado season,” that is, April-June, hasn’t even arrived yet.

Tornadoes Don’t Just Arise in a Few Places

Not confined by time or space, tornadoes can, and have, hit all 50 states. Roughly 1,200 tornadoes strike the United States each year. No place in the country is fully immune to these terrible storms, though certain regions are more prone to them than others.

Many Americans are likely familiar with the term “Tornado Alley,” which describes an area overlapping the Great Plains and is traditionally associated with deadly twisters. Though not strictly defined, Tornado Alley usually denotes northern Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota, as well as portions of their neighbors, Iowa, Minnesota, Colorado, and Missouri.

Less well-known is “Dixie Alley” which covers much of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, and portions of their bordering states. Though not as commonly discussed as its cousin to the north and west, this “Alley” often experiences tornadoes that are even deadlier. Sadly, the March 2020 tornadoes fit right into this model.

Dark clouds from severe weather

Planning for Potential Tornadoes

We can’t simply prevent tornadoes, but there are steps we can take as defensive measures. Here is a list of essential things to remember when thinking about how best to protect yourself and your family from severe weather.

Identify a safe space

As we have discussed before, being on the road is not a good place to be during severe weather. Whether you’re in a vehicle or walking, you are at great risk if you are out in the open when a tornado hits. Two of the fatalities from the March 2020 Tennessee tornadoes were killed by flying debris on a street in Nashville.

Ideally, your home would have a dedicated storm shelter, designed and built specifically for the purpose of protecting you and your family from deadly tornadoes. At the very least, you should be able to take refuge in a basement or in a room that has no windows or exterior walls. It’s best to put as many sturdy barriers between you and the tornado as possible.

Have an established plan

According to Davidson County authorities, residents of East Nashville only had six minutes to find safety from the storm after being warned. As these storms occurred late at night and into the early morning, they caught many people sleeping. Could you wake up your whole family and get them to your shelter in such a short amount of time? Planning for the worst now may just produce the best possible outcome in the future.

Make sure you can stay updated

Most Americans depend heavily on devices and other modern conveniences. But tens of thousands of residents in these tornado-stricken areas lost power during or after the storms hit. If there was no electricity, and you couldn’t get cell phone reception, how would you hear the latest storm-related news? It’s best to have a radio and a flashlight powered by batteries or by a hand crank that won’t fail if the utilities or the cell network goes out.

In Conclusion

Tornadoes can strike any time of the day, potentially on any day of the year. No part of the United States is completely safe. And sadly, tornadoes often bring deadly destruction with them. But there are steps that you and your family can take to better ensure your safety.

Have a safe space, share your well-developed plan with your family, and prepare for how you will stay informed.

Reach Out to Survive-a-Storm

Unfortunately, we can’t prevent tornadoes from happening altogether. But by taking precautionary steps, we can minimize their tragic effects.

If you would like to learn more about how you can protect your family from severe weather, contact Survive-a-Storm today. Whether you’re an individual or a business (of any size), we can find a storm shelter that will suit your needs.

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Severe Weather Safety While on the Road

A road running to the horizon under a dark cloud

Let’s be blunt: Don’t ever take the threat of severe weather lightly, especially while on the road.

Proper preparedness in the face of tornadoes, thunderstorms, and other severe weather may literally determine whether you and your family live or die.

And being on the road, in any type of vehicle, is one of the most dangerous places to be during a severe weather event.

Tornadoes can roll and flip vehicles, even the largest and heaviest ones. Strong winds often bring down trees, flattening cars.

As the height of tornado season approaches, consider the dangers of traveling before you get on the road.

Before you travel, ask yourself:

Is this trip really necessary?

Many times, we think that a trip that we simply want to take is a trip that we must take. But rarely is that ever the case. If the National Weather Service has issued a warning about severe weather, consider postponing your trip until after the danger is gone.

Can I monitor the weather situation as it develops?

If you decide that you must travel, despite severe weather, gather as much information as you can about how bad it is, where it’s likely to head next, and when it will have passed your intended path.

You can follow weather reports online and via TV and radio. The NOAA radio network transmits weather forecasts and updates on watches and warnings 24 hours a day. When you’re in your vehicle, find a local radio station that is broadcasting weather updates and heed its warnings. And remember that satellite radio will not provide you with warnings appropriate to your location.

Ideally, when traveling, especially during severe weather, you should keep a battery-powered weather radio or one that you can power by turning a crank. Investing in a hand-crank flashlight is a great idea too!

How well do I know the area I’ll be passing through?

Of course, severe weather can harm you even if you’re just traveling in your own neighborhood. But the farther you travel, and the less familiar the territory, the more likely it is that you could run into trouble during severe weather.

If you must travel, familiarize yourself with your route before you start off. Becoming more geographically-aware also empowers you to see the bigger picture when assessing danger. For instance, the National Weather Service issues severe weather warnings according to counties. That means that knowing which counties you will transit on your trip may improve your chances of avoiding the worst dangers.

Can I cope if my device fails me?

In the days before mapping apps and other GPS technology, travelers had to depend on folding maps stuffed in glove boxes. These may seem quaint or outdated to many people now. But paper maps actually had one major advantage over the electronic ones in our modern devices: They wouldn’t fail in severe weather.

Imagine that a tornado takes down a cellphone tower. Or maybe your phone reception is too poor because you’re in a remote area. That glove-box map can still be your trusted navigator.

Do I have a contingency route?

You may encounter unexpected physical hazards on the road itself. Maybe a part of your intended path will be underwater. There could be a fallen tree or downed power lines blocking your way. High winds may have blown debris onto the road.

If you had to turn around, would you still find your way? This is where your ability to read a map might come in very handy. But it’s even better if you can plan an alternate route before you even start your trip.

Will I know where to go to best protect myself on the road?

As stated earlier, a vehicle is not a safe place to be during severe weather.

But if you do find yourself out on the road during a sudden bout of severe weather, there are some important things to remember. Could you answer the questions below?  

What should I do if I’m driving and I spot a tornado?

  • Do stay calm. Panicking will never help you think more clearly or make good decisions.
  • Do get off the road and seek sanctuary in a sturdy structure. Obviously, a dedicated storm shelter will offer you the best protection. But in a pinch, being in a truck stop or a roadside restaurant is much better than trying to ride out the weather in a vehicle.
  • Do follow the basic guidelines to protect yourself during a tornado.
    • Get in—place yourself in a solid structure as far from exterior walls as you can
    • Get down—go to the lowest place in the building; a basement, if possible
    • Cover up—crouch down and cover your neck and head to ward off injuries from flying debris

What should I not do if I’m driving and I spot a tornado?

  • Don’t try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle. Tornadoes can move very quickly, and the direction of their movements can be unpredictable.
  • Don’t park your vehicle under a bridge or highway overpass. These structures are not designed to provide a safe haven during severe weather. In addition, you may end up blocking traffic that needs to pass, including emergency vehicles.
  • Don’t attempt to drive through flowing or standing water on or off the road. You have no way to accurately gauge how deep a pool of water may be or how strong a current actually is. Your vehicle may become stuck or even be swept away.
  • Don’t put yourself in any situation where you might be trapped in your vehicle or stuck on a roadway with no hope of finding a proper shelter.

What about seeking shelter in a ditch?

Finally, if you’re on the road and confront severe weather and you absolutely cannot get to a sturdy building for shelter, you can seek out a ditch or a ravine to lie in. But doing this should be your last resort. Even though you’re below ground level, you’re still susceptible to being struck by flying debris. A tornado might even lift your own abandoned vehicle and turn it into a missile, weaponizing it against you as you lie in the ditch.

In Conclusion

Keep off the road, if at all possible, during an outbreak of severe weather. Always stay aware of your surroundings and monitor weather updates from a trusted authority. Get to a tornado shelter if you can, or take refuge in another sturdy structure if a dedicated shelter is not available.

Have a question about storm shelters? Reach out to the experts at Survive-a-Storm today at 888-360-1492 and learn how we can make your community safer!

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