We’ve been having quite a few tornadoes recently in Louisiana, so I’ve put together a guide on how to increase your chances of surviving a tornado when you live in an apartment building, duplex, or any home you’re renting.
Tornado season is technically March through May in the Southern US and May through early summer in the Northern US, but tornadoes can form at any time of the year if the conditions are right. When a cold front moves through an area, it can bring a temperature change and an increase in wind speed. If the air ahead of the front is warm, moist, and unstable, it can rise rapidly and form thunderstorms. If the wind shear (change in wind direction and speed with height) is strong enough, these thunderstorms can produce tornadoes. Tornadoes can also form during hurricanes or typhoons as they move over land, but these tornadoes tend to be weaker and shorter-lived.
Living in an apartment can present unique challenges when preparing for a tornado. Tornadoes can cause devastating destruction and leave homes (including apartments) damaged or completely destroyed. So, it’s essential to know what steps you should take before, during, and after a tornado warning has been issued. Today we’ll provide information on how to protect yourself and your property best while living in an apartment complex during tornado season.
Before a tornado warning is issued, it’s helpful to have a plan of action already in place. You should familiarize yourself with the evacuation routes available from your apartment building and identify safe shelter locations nearby where you can go if necessary. If possible, it’s also beneficial to keep things like flashlights, extra batteries, first aid kits, water bottles, blankets, and other supplies readily accessible in a ‘Go Bag’ in case of emergency.
After a tornado warning is issued, you should seek shelter immediately by going to the lowest level of your apartment building (preferably an interior room or a bathroom) away from windows or glass doors. If you do not have access to an interior room without windows or glass doors at your apartment complex, try to find another safe shelter nearby, such as a designated storm cellar or underground garage structure. If none of these options are available, you can get in the bathtub and place a mattress or couch cushion over your body to protect you from debris. Typically the bathroom of a home or apartment will be stronger than the other rooms in the house because of the plumbing, giving you a slight advantage, but only do this if you’ve exhausted all other options, and don’t have access to a sturdier structure or interior room.
If you have time before evacuating your residence during a tornado event, ensure all doors and windows are closed securely. If vehicles parked outside your home cannot be moved indoors safely during the event, ensure they are secured with heavy-duty straps or chains so they don’t become airborne debris themselves! Consider turning off utilities such as electricity and gas; this will reduce the risk of additional damage caused by utility lines snapping due to strong winds.
Having the right gear can also help you survive a tornado. Some essential items to consider include:
- An emergency kit or Go Bag – Your emergency kit should include water, non-perishable food items, flashlights, batteries, first aid supplies, extra clothing, and blankets.
- A sturdy helmet – to protect your head from falling debris
- Sturdy shoes – Wear proper foot protection such as steel-toed boots while walking through debris afterward to prevent injuries from sharp objects and hazards on the ground.
- A NOAA weather radio – Stay informed with the latest weather updates by keeping a NOAA weather radio on hand that is battery-operated or has its own generator.
- A whistle, air horn, or another signal device – to attract attention if you are trapped
- A multi-purpose tool, such as a pocket knife or pliers, to help you cut through debris or other obstacles
- An N95, N99, or any other type of protective respirator – to protect your lungs from any debris in the aftermath of the storm
Finally, after the tornado threat has passed, it’s essential to remain vigilant and aware of potential hazards such as power outages or flooding caused by heavy rains associated with severe weather events. Please be careful when re-entering any buildings affected by falling debris; take care when driving around town due to possible road closures; and listen for any official warnings issued by local authorities before deciding whether it is safe to travel outdoors again.
Living in an apartment during severe weather events can be stressful; however, knowing what steps need to be taken before, during, and after a tornado warning can help minimize potential damage and keep everyone safe until the danger has passed. Ensure you know where safe shelters are nearby: underground parking garages or storm cellars. Keep basic emergency supplies within easy reach inside your residence. Secure any objects outside which could be thrown or damaged by the tornado. Always follow official warnings from authorities regarding evacuation orders so that everyone can stay out of harm’s way until conditions improve again.