Tornado Safety: Where is the best place to seek shelter in your home?

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - The Ayers family loves where they live in northeast Madison County. Their homestead on several acres in the Hurricane Creek community near New Market provides a peaceful place for their two children, Collin (7) and Tanner (5).  The big, beautiful trees that surround their home create that serene setting but are also a source of concern for mom, Anita.  "We do have a lot of older trees. But, we've gone around and Tyler has cut out a lot of the old limbs and things to try and make sure that we don't have something that's just going to fall easily."

Seven-year-old Collin's bedroom faces those trees.  "If one of the branches from those two trees, would bust one of these giant windows." "If it would bust this one," he stated gesturing to a large bay window, "it would have the most glass because it's the biggest window on here."

That's why this family has a plan that even the kids know. "To go to a closet that has no windows or glass in that room," advised Collin.

They practice so that when the time comes everyone knows what to do and where to go.

It may seem like a waste of time to make a plan when there's no tornado activity in sight, but weather experts say the Ayers family does what more people should do - PREPARE. You need to have a safe place chosen where your family can go at a moment's notice when a storm threatens and regularly practice that plan.

Identifying Your "Safe Place"

Todd Barron, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Huntsville recommends you find a "safe place" that meets the following criteria:

  • interior room
  • lowest level of home
  • away from windows

"Of course, no home is going to be 100 percent tornado proof," he explained. But, "The general rule of thumb is you want to keep in mind is you want to put as many walls between you and the outside world as possible."

But there are some things to watch out for when finding that safe spot for your family.  "The exterior walls you have to watch out for flying debris coming through your wall. Trees coming through those walls. Power lines and power poles coming through those walls," he said, noting the high winds can pose serious risks.

  • Avoid the garage, a mistakenly common shelter spot

Barron explained: "Because your garage door, if a tornado does hit it, is going to be one of the first places to break down and fail"

  • Mobile homes pose a big risk

Barron says the lack of foundation on a mobile home makes it especially treacherous, "It is one of the worst spots to be during a tornado. It's not going to take much wind speed to either roll the mobile home with you inside or to completely destroy them," he said.

Resources

If you don't believe you have a safe place that's safe enough, especially if you do live in a mobile home, take the time to find your nearest storm shelter. You'll find a list at this link.

Having a plan in place before the next storm hits can mean the difference between life and death. That includes how your family will communicate, where you will meet, and how you will receive alerts and warnings.

This link is a good resource for making a plan, and includes some sample plans.

It also helps to have a emergency supply kit.