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Know What to Do if the Rare Tornado Should Touch Down in Southern California

Determine the safest place in your home for shelter and have an emergency kit ready

Tornadoes may be rare in Southern California, but they are not unknown around here. Click to view larger
Tornadoes may be rare in Southern California, but they are not unknown around here. (Green Shoot Media)

Extreme weather events pose a threat to Americans year round. Tornadoes are especially dangerous for Midwestern and Southern states, but they are not unknown in Southern California. These unpredictable storms are capable of obliterating entire towns and wildlife populations.

        |  Emergency Preparedness 2017  |  Complete Series Index  |

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines a tornado as a narrow, violently rotating column of air that extends from the base of the thunderstorm to the ground. Commonly called funnel clouds, tornadoes are basically windstorms that destroy everything they touch. They are the most violent type of atmospheric storms.

Preparing for a Storm

Tornadoes tend to strike quickly, without much warning. Meteorologists can give notices based on atmospheric conditions, but whether a tornado will develop and touch the ground cannot be foreseen.

Therefore, preparing ahead of a storm is crucial to your safety.

Put together a general emergency kit with enough food, water and prescriptions to last you at least three days. You also need to find a designated safe spot on your property. The National Weather Service has some great tips on how to choose this spot.

» Basement: If you have a basement, this is your best option. Allow plenty of space between you and any windows and be sure to keep supplies ready underground.

» Storm shelter: For those without basements, a great option is to hire a professional to install a storm shelter in an open area of your property. The underground bunkers can protect groups of people and also provide plenty of room for supplies.

» Interior closet: If you do not have access to the above options, aim for a room on your home’s lowest floor that is surrounded by interior walls. Putting the most walls between you and the storm can prove to be the safest place above ground.

Watch or Warning

Understanding the difference between a tornado watch and warning can potentially save your life.

A watch simply means the possibility of a tornado forming is present. In this instance, you should pay attention to your local weather reports or weather radio. While you should not go into panic mode, you need to be prepared to act quickly.

A warning is usually communicated with tornado sirens and means a tornado has been sighted. At this point in the storm, you can lose power sometimes, so you can’t rely on weather reports without a battery-operated device.

Don’t waste time when you hear a siren. Immediately head to your safe area.

        |  Emergency Preparedness 2017  |  Complete Series Index  |

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