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how to reduce your risks in the event of a tornado


  • although tornadoes are relatively common in Australia, they rarely cause substantial damage or injury, usually because most hit rural areas or are at sea as water spouts, and unlike in the US, those in southern parts of Australia are short-lived, fast ones, usually in May-Sept, which travel at 50-80kph and last only 10-30 minutes.
  • tornadoes extend from severe thunderstorms and usually develop from the trailing end of a storm
  • it is not uncommon for the sun to be visible or skies to clear partially during a tornado

in high risk areas, plan ahead

  • preferably build your house with tornado protection measures including a basement
  • choose a safe room in which you will shelter
  • have emergency food and water supplies on hand
  • have a full tank of fuel in your car
  • prepare for high winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees
  • move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile

be aware of the signs of an impending tornado

  • strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base
  • whirling debris on the ground under a cloud base - tornadoes sometimes have no funnel!
  • many tornadoes are hidden by heavy rain - beware heavy hail or rain followed by either dead calm or an intense wind shift
  • loud freight train roar or rumble that doesn't fade within seconds like thunder
  • small blue or green flashes at ground level which suggest power lines are being affected by a tornado
  • persistent lowering from the cloud base, illuminated or silhouetted by lightning
  • listen to local radio news

safety in tornado

  • if you are inside a tornado, safety cannot be guaranteed but there are possible steps to reduce risks
  • flying debris is the greatest danger in tornadoes
    • avoid windows
    • basements are generally good shelters but rarely available in Australia
    • go to an interior hall or room without windows in the lowest floor possible, lie flat, protect head with arms and cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag
    • the more concrete walls or plumbing around you, the better - this reduces the risk of your home caving in on you and better protects you from flying debris
    • do not use elevators as risk of power failure
    • avoid high risk structures such as mobile homes
    • if outdoors in the open:
      • lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms
      • get as far away from trees and cars as you can as these may get blown onto you
  • 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
    • consider driving out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado if the tornado is at a distance
    • seek shelter in a sturdy building, or underground if possible
    • if there is a deep ditch beside the road, consider getting out of the car and moving there well away from cars or trees, and lie flat, etc
    • avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris
    • if caught by extreme winds or flying debris:
      • park the car as quickly and safely as possible well off the road 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

after the tornado

  • stay away from power lines and puddles with wires in them
  • do not use candles, matches or lighters, in case of leaking natural gas pipes or fuel tanks nearby
  • if you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone out of the building quickly and call the gas company or fire department
  • stay out of any heavily damaged houses or buildings as they could collapse at any time
  • assist the injured and stay together
  • clean up spilled medications, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids that could become a fire hazard
australia/tornado_safety.txt · Last modified: 2018/06/08 10:33 by gary1

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