How to Live Through a Tornado

For one thing, don't open the windows
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2011 4:40 PM CDT

(Newser) – The tornadoes that have rampaged through the South and Midwest this year didn't need to be as devastating as they were: NPR talks to experts and finds that an ounce of prevention can make the difference between life and death, even when 200mph-winds are involved. Some things you can do:

  • Have a plan: The truly prepared in tornado-prone areas have steel- or concrete-walled tornado shelters to protect from things like two-by-fours that become missiles as a tornado shreds a house. Even if you're not going to install a shelter, at least plan your course of action before the winds start howling.

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  • No shelter? Put as many walls between you and the wind as you can—and cover up. "Once you get in there, something like a bicycle helmet or a football helmet can dramatically improve your chances of surviving without significant injury," says an expert.
  • Don't open the windows: Contrary to common advice, "once the wind gets inside your house, it essentially can start to lift the roof up off the house," says the expert.
  • For drivers: If you're caught in a car, don't seek shelter under an overpass—it can turn into a wind tunnel. If you can, flee on a 90-degree angle from the storm path. If you can't, abandon the car and get in a ditch and cover up. If possible find shelter, say in a fast-food restaurant with a walk-in cooler.
For more tips, click here. (Read more Joplin tornado stories.)

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