April is Tornado Month
(NASHVILLE) – As of 5:30 AM Wednesday, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency is reporting 26 confirmed fatalities having occurred in the following counties: Shelby, Fayette, Hardin, Macon, Madison, Sumner and Trousdale. More than 149 people have been reported as being injured and one person is presumed missing as the storms began a deadly march through Middle Tennessee.…” *
These are old headlines, but if you google “Tornado Alley” many experts include Tennessee in the grouping of states with the nickname. April 2011 was the deadliest “tornado month” in recorded history.**
What To Look For
Any of the following: Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base; whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base (tornadoes sometimes have no funnel); hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift; loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn’t fade in a few seconds like thunder. Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can’t be seen.**
What Never To Do
- DO NOT stay in a Mobile home as they offer very little protection from tornadoes.
- DO NOT open the windows in your home or business
- DO NOT get under a highway overpass or bridge as wind speed increases there.
What To Do, Always
- ALWAYS turn on local TV, radio or NOAA Weather Radio and stay alert for warnings.
- ALWAYS remember this fact: flying debris is the greatest danger in a tornado
- ALWAYS stay away from windows.
- ALWAYS crouch low, head down, and protect the back of your head with your arms.
In a house with a basement: Get in the basement and under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench). Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, etc.) and do not go under them.
In a house with no basement, a dorm, or an apartment: Go to the lowest floor and to a small center windowless room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows.
In an office building, hospital, nursing home or skyscraper: Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building — away from glass and on the lowest floor possible. Then, crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter, Stay off the elevators; you could be trapped in them if the power is lost.
In a mobile home: Get out. Even if your home is tied down, it is not as safe as an underground shelter or permanent, sturdy building.
At school: Follow the drill! Go to the interior hall or room in an orderly way as you are told. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.
In a car or truck: Vehicles are extremely risky in a tornado. There is no safe option when caught in a tornado in a car, just slightly less-dangerous ones.
IF YOU CANNOT seek shelter in a sturdy building and…The tornado is visible, far away, drive out of it’s path by moving at right angles to the tornado.
If you are caught by extreme winds or flying debris, park the car as quickly and safely as possible — out of the traffic lanes. Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat, or other cushion if possible.
If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges and overpasses.
In a shopping mall or large store, church or theater: Do not panic. Watch for others. Move as quickly as possible to an interior bathroom, storage room or other small enclosed area.
*Taken from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
*April 14 to 16, 2011, resulting in 178 confirmed tornadoes across 16 states
In The Workplace …
Although “workplace” can include all of the above locations, Utility workers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, federal, state and local government personnel (such as sanitation and highway workers), and military personnel are exposed to specific safety and health hazards associated with tornados. They include:
- Hazardous driving conditions due to slippery roadways
- Slips and falls due to slippery walkways
- Falling and flying objects such as tree limbs and utility poles
- Electrical hazards from downed power lines or downed objects in contact with power lines
- Falls from heights
- Burns from fires caused by energized line contact or equipment failure
- Exhaustion from working extended shifts
OSHA provides detailed Preparedness Planning with which all employers should ready their workers for emergencies such as tornados. They include establishing and testing:
- Alarm systems and ways to warn workers
- Communicate warnings to those with disabilities or who may not yet speak English
- Knowing who is in the building in the event of an emergency