Over and over during severe weather you hear the on air weather anchor say things like “take cover” or “go to your safe place.” So many people though the years have brought up a very valid question. Where is a safe place?
First off, every family should have a plan. As soon as you finish reading this article, get your family together and come up with a plan. Here are a few tips.
1. Build a weather box. A weather box has very important things in it; things that are essential if you are hit directly by a tornado.
What should be in your “weather box?”; essentials. Things like bottled water, a battery operated radio, a couple flashlights, some kind of food that you can just open up and eat on the spot, as well as a blanket. You may be able to think of more things to add to your box depending upon you and your families particular needs.
2.Tornado Warnings are now issued in polygons. That means that the old days of issuing warnings for entire counties when only a small portion of a county may be impacted is over. No where you are in your county when it comes to geography and make sure your children know as well. A safe place should be taken seriously so you should only go to your safe place when necessary.
3.Abandon mobile homes and vehicles of any kind. Mobile homes; even the ones that are tied down are not built to withstand the winds of even a “weak” tornado. Mobile homes and vehicles should be abandoned even during severe t-storm warnings unless there are absolutely no trees around whatsoever.
Alright, now to the meet of this article; where is a safe place?
If you live in a well built house you want to think low, put as many walls between the outside and you. Get in a small room in the center of the house. Usually a very small bathroom or closet on the lowest floor of your house will be left standing even if nothing else is. Still, when it comes to a tornado that is an EF3 or larger, the only true safe place is under ground, which brings me to my next option.
Most areas in the southeastern United Stated are COVERED with storm cellars. Most are over 40 years old but serve their purpose today just as well or even better than the day they were built. I recommend for those without protection to make friends with someone that has a storm cellar (or basement or safe room which I will get to later, and have an understanding that you’ll be going there during severe weather).
Another option which is somewhat less effective is a basement. The writer of this article lost an aunt to a tornado on April 27th of 2011. Apparently a beam hit her and a friend as several others in the collapsed house/basement did survive. Still, basements are only recommended if you have a sturdy table and a bicycle or motor cycle helmet to protect your head. Over 90% of people who die in tornadoes die because of blunt objects to their heads. Protect your head and most likely you will be alright.
The best idea in the opinion of this meteorologist and author of this article would be a “SAFE ROOM.” A safe room is a room that is built while the house is being constructed. In an ideal situation, it would sit down in the ground so you would actually open a door and walk down into it like a basement, but unlike a basement, it has reinforced concrete and is made with the idea of keeping you safe during a tornado.
If you are interested in purchasing a safe room (they CAN be installed after the house is already built), OR a storm cellar, simply go to your favorite search engine and type in those words and you will find several companies that offer good deals on these. Check with your local EMA or FEMA office and check to see if you may be eligible for a grant as thousands of dollars has been poured in to help get more safe places constructed across the southeastern United States.