A tornado is one of the last things you ever want to encounter in your life.

hey are dangerous and leave a visible impact on the communities which they affect. We may not be able to prevent the formation of tornados, but we can prepare for them. Preparedness contains many different aspects, but they all are equally essential parts of the whole. A multi-faceted preparedness plan will improve the health outcomes of the tornado for those that take part. Tornado preparedness consists of a monitoring and alert system, planning for the time during the event, and then preparing for response after the event.

A major step of tornado preparedness stems from the scientific advances that allow us to better monitor weather systems, specifically supercells.

Being able to identify conditions and weather patterns to enable early detection is pivotal to the preparedness process. Without early detection of these storms, people could be at greater risk by not noticing the danger until the tornado has formed. Our goal at DisasterDoc is about moving our action to the left of the disaster impact.

Doppler radar technology allows us to monitor weather patterns and development of severe weather systems closely. There are specific radar identifiers that allow for the detection of tornados as they form. This identification coincides with the processes of a tornado watch and tornado warning. Radar technology can also allow us to identify changes in the tornado’s direction, size, and strength.

Once a tornado forms (and is identified by radar), there are various notification methods.

One of the more old-school methods involves the warning siren. This siren usually comes when a tornado funnel cloud forms and is an immediate hazard to those in the area. Another notification option would be through local news programming or weather service alerts on phones, tablets, and other devices. Thankfully in our world of technology, we can receive this advance notice.

The next level of tornado preparedness is regarding actions to be taken during the event of a tornado. As previously mentioned, preparedness occurs in many phases, but we must make individual efforts to attain all facets of preparedness. These individual efforts include planning for the event of the tornado. If we are in the path of a tornado, we will need to take these steps.

A significant first step in our planning is to determine the best location to shelter ourselves in case of a tornado.

Tornados carry incredibly fast wind speeds. These winds carry debris in their path and can cause serious injury if exposure occurs. The key to sheltering in tornados is to avoid windows and shelter in a basement or far interior room.

This step is to put as much space between us and the primary hazard of the tornado, the wind. Windows will become sharp projectiles very quickly as winds blow harder and are hit by other debris. A major part of preparedness for tornados comes from acknowledging the hazard and working to avoid exposing ourselves to it. The best way to do this in a tornado is to avoid the wind and any projectiles flying through it.

Lastly, beyond monitoring and alert systems and proper shelter preparedness, we need to be sure we prepare for the inevitable time after the tornado dissipates.

We cannot control nature, so the inevitability is some of us will be affected by tornados. They exist and therefore impact human beings. Why not prepare for when the disaster passes and how we are left to deal with the impacts?

Chances are that after being hit by a tornado, our homes may be drastically damaged. If we are planning on sheltering at home (in a basement or interior room), it would be helpful to have pertinent supplies close to or inside that space. Supplies can include necessities like some food, water, flashlights, a first aid kit, etc. Chances are also that the tornado will impact the community in similar ways. If these supplies aren’t necessities for us, perhaps neighbors may require first aid or the comfort of the light of a flashlight.

Most importantly, the impact on our homes may mean we need to shelter somewhere else until it’s safe to return. For this reason, we recommend having an idea of someone to stay with that may not have been in the tornado’s path. There also may be local emergency shelters that exist for this reason. Having an idea of where they are before the event may help us transition to the temporary shelter space.

Overall, tornados can be incredibly destructive to our communities. Just like any disaster, however, our greatest power against them is through proper preparedness. Taking steps to be prepared for these events will help to improve overall health outcomes resulting from the tornado.

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