Tornado Safety

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Basic Tornado Safety

  • The lowest possible level of a building or structure (Ex: First floor, basement, storm cellar)
  • Interior room with no windows, such as a closet or bathroom
  • Get underneath sturdy piece of furniture and cover neck and head
  • Avoid places / rooms with wide-span roofs (cafeterias, gymnasiums, shopping malls)
  • Mobile Homes are not safe shelters; you should make plans before the storm arrives to get to a pre-planned shelter
  • Apartment dwellers should have a plan in place to get to an apartment on the lowest level of the complex. Contact your Leasing Office.
  • Do not attempt to outrun a tornado in your automobile, seek shelter inside a nearby building. Be sure not to choose a large box store with a wide-span roof.
  • If stranded outside lie down in a ditch or low lying area away from the vehicle, but remain aware of possible flash flooding
  • Do not seek shelter underneath a bridge or overpass

If You Are in a Structure

  • Go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar or the lowest building level.
  • If there's no basement or cellar, go to an interior room on the lowest level (bathroom, closet, interior hallway) away from the corners, windows, doors, and outside walls.
  • Put as many walls between you and the outside as possible.
  • If you seek shelter in a bathtub, use a mattress or other protective item to cover you and protect against debris.
  • If in a room, get under a sturdy table or at least use your arms to protect your head and neck.
  • DO NOT open windows.

If You Are in a Vehicle, Trailer or Mobile Home

  • If possible, get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy building or storm shelter.
  • Watch for flying debris. Most tornado related fatalities and injuries are caused by flying debris.
  • Never try to outrun a tornado - seek shelter.
  • DO NOT get under an overpass or bridge if possible. Often times, flying debris is worse in these areas.

Outside With No Shelter

  • Lie flat in a ditch or low lying area and cover your head with your hands. Beware of flood waters in these areas.

Watch vs. Warning

A tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible in your area. A tornado WARNING means a tornado has been sighted and may be headed to your area.

When a Tornado WATCH is Issued

  • Listen to local radio and TV stations, be ready to take protective action from severe weather.
  • Be alert to changing weather conditions.
  • Average tornado warning time is just 13 minutes so pay close attention and sign up for notification through many sources so you find out when a Watch transitions to a Warning.

Building a Safe Room

Outdoor Warning System may be Activated When

  • The National Weather Service issues a Richardson area Tornado Warning or Severe Thunderstorm Warning with destructive winds at or above 70 mph
  • Trained storm spotters have reported a tornado with the potential to affect the City of Richardson
  • Golf ball size hail is imminent
  • Deemed necessary by City of Richardson officials (i.e. in the event of any emergency when officials need to get citizens to move indoors for their safety)