7 Essential Steps for Apartment Tornado Safety

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Living in an apartment during a tornado can be scary. But with the right knowledge, tools, and strategies, you can increase your chances of staying safe. Here are seven crucial safety measures to prepare for a tornado in an apartment.

1. Know the Difference

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An essential first step in tornado preparation is understanding the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form.

It doesn’t mean that one has been spotted, but it’s a signal to stay alert, keep an eye on the weather, and prepare for the possibility of a tornado. On the other hand, a tornado warning means that a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. When a warning is issued, it’s crucial to take immediate action and seek shelter.

2. Prepare an Emergency Supply Kit

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Having an emergency kit ready can make a big difference when a tornado strikes. The kit should contain items that you might need during and after the storm. These include fresh batteries and a battery-operated TV, radio, or internet-enabled device for receiving the latest emergency weather information. The kit should also have water, non-perishable food items, medication, and a list of important telephone numbers. Preparing such an emergency kit is not only crucial for tornado readiness but also beneficial for any other type of disaster.

3. Designate a Safe Building for Shelter

In an apartment building, identifying the safest place to take shelter during a tornado can be tricky. Generally, you want to put as many walls between you and the outside as possible. Interior rooms without windows, such as bathrooms or closets, are often the safest options. Basements or storm cellars provide excellent protection, but many apartment buildings don’t have these. If your apartment building has a designated storm shelter, make sure you know how to get there quickly.

4. Find Low-Lying Ground if Stuck Outside

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If you find yourself outside during a tornado with no time to get to a safe indoor location, look for low-lying ground such as a ditch or a ravine. Lie flat in this area and cover your head with your hands or an object if available. Avoid areas near trees and cars as they can be blown onto you during a tornado. Remember, being outdoors during a tornado is dangerous, and these measures should only be used as a last resort.

5. Get off the Road

Vehicles are extremely risky in a tornado. If you’re driving and hear a tornado warning, it’s imperative to get off the road and seek shelter in a sturdy building immediately.

If you can’t find shelter, park the car as quickly and safely as possible, keep your seat belt on, put your head below the windows, and cover it with your hands and a blanket or other cushion if possible.

Avoid seeking shelter under bridges as they offer little protection against flying debris.

6. Be Flexible with Your Plan

Creating a tornado safety plan is essential, but just as important is being flexible with that plan.

Circumstances can change rapidly during severe weather and the area you initially identified as the safest might not be accessible or safe anymore.

Always have backup options for shelter within your apartment building, like multiple interior rooms without windows. Also, consider options outside your building, such as a designated community storm shelter.

7. Stay Informed

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Staying informed about the weather situation is one of the best ways to stay safe during a tornado. Monitor local news, weather stations, and official online platforms continuously during severe weather.

A battery-powered weather radio can be an invaluable tool for receiving real-time updates about tornado watches and warnings. Additionally, many communities have text or email alert systems for severe weather warnings, which can help you stay informed even if your power goes out.

FAQs about Tornados & Apartments

Can an apartment building survive a tornado?

Whether an apartment building can survive a tornado largely depends on the severity of the tornado and the construction of the building. While smaller EF0 or EF1 tornadoes might cause minor damage, stronger tornadoes can cause significant damage or even destroy apartment buildings.

However, modern buildings constructed according to prevailing building codes often offer better protection against tornadoes than older structures.

Can tornadoes destroy apartments?

Yes, tornadoes can indeed destroy apartments. The degree of destruction largely depends on the strength of the tornado and the construction quality of the apartment building. It’s crucial to remember that during a tornado, your safety is paramount. Prioritize getting to a safe location over trying to protect property.

Why is the bathroom the safest place in a tornado?

Bathrooms are often recommended as safe places during a tornado because they are typically small, windowless rooms located in the interior part of a home or apartment.

The pipes within the walls can also add structural stability. However, not all bathrooms are equally safe. A bathroom on the upper floor or one with windows would not be the safest choice.

Is it safe to go to the bathroom during a tornado?

The bathroom can be a safe place during a tornado, but it’s important to use common sense and listen to local authorities’ instructions.

If your bathroom is on an upper floor or has windows, it may not be the safest place. Always prioritize finding a shelter location that’s as low as possible and away from windows.

By Anita Brown

Anita Brown is our go-to contributor to our emergency preparedness website. Anita brings a wealth of personal experience and professional expertise to the table, having weathered several awful natural disasters. Anita is currently working towards obtaining her Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) certification.