By Lee Audirsch, April 17, 1998
Unfortunately, tornadoes aren't limited solely to the United States. In fact, Australia has the second highest incidence of tornadoes, and hundreds of other countries around the world experience tornadoes every year. So how can you protect yourself? If you are at home when a tornado is sighted:
- Go 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 smaller inner room without windows, such as a bathroom or closet. Get away from the windows. [When I was a kid in Oklahoma, we were taught to open all windows to "equalize the pressure." It turns out that the only thing that this does is get your carpet wet. In other words, keep your windows closed and stay away from them!]
- Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they tend to attract debris.
- Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench or heavy table or desk and hold on to it.
- Use arms to protect head and neck. [Remember all those movies where the airplane is about to crash and everyone is told to "assume crash positions?" That's what you need to do.]
- If in a mobile home, get out and find shelter elsewhere. [It sounds silly, but you'll be a heck of a lot safer lying outside in a soggy ditch.]
All of these tips come from the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency's Tornado fact sheet.