Tornado Preparation: A Home And Car Survival Guide

There are few things in life that are quite as scary as being hunkered down in a closet as the tornado sirens go off. If you live in the Midwest — which is often referred to as “Tornado Alley” — then you know this feeling all too well. If you don’t, then you may have a false sense of security since the NOAA reports that every state is susceptible to a tornado touchdown.

Statistically speaking, approximately 1,200 tornadoes hit the United States each year, causing an average of $24,000 in home damage and $4,000 in auto damage, Nationwide Insurance notes.

The company’s claims department recently reviewed data related to tornadoes from 2008 and 2012 and found that other than a direct hit, the majority of tornado damage to homes and cars occurred from falling tree debris or fallen trees.

Fortunately, once your health and the health of your family is secure, you can turn to the financial fallout of a tornado with the peace of mind that homeowner’s policies cover these natural disasters. But what about beforehand — what can you do to prep your home and/or car so that you sustain the least amount of damage and lower your overall risks? Here’s what Nationwide recommends.


Tornado Car Preparations

Nationwide notes that if the area you live in is under a tornado watch — this means that tornadoes are possible in the nearby area — you should move your car into a garage or away from any trees.

“Do not … attempt to do this if conditions are unsafe or if your area is under a tornado warning,” the company notes.

(A tornado warning means that one could hit at any moment; in other words, you should have been down in the basement or in a windowless space at the center of your house yesterday.)


Tornado Home Prep

To prep your home before a tornado, Nationwide recommends that you trim trees and shrubbery.

“Be on the lookout for weak branches that could fall on your home,” the company explains. “You should also replace landscaping materials like gravel and rock with mulch. If weather forecasters are projecting severe weather in the coming days, move anything in your yard that may become flying debris inside your house or garage.”

Since most of the damage occurs as a result of what the tornado has to throw around basically, then securing and maintaining its most likely weapons will put you in a better position to sustain smaller amounts of damage.


General Tornado Tips

Should a tornado watch be in effect in your region, it’s best to carefully monitor local radio and television broadcasts for announcements. More people are turning to the Internet, and while that’s better than nothing, many local sources aren’t quite there yet when it comes to streaming speeds. You don’t want delayed information when a second or two can be the difference between life and death.

You should also turn off all utilities and close your windows. If out on the road, never take shelter under a bridge or overpass.


In Summary

While tornadoes don’t kill as many people or cause as much damage as some natural disasters, they are scary because no one knows when or where one will hit until it’s usually too late to do anything about it. You can’t outrun a tornado. You can’t do anything to keep one from leveling your home or picking your car up and tossing it several feet, if that’s what the funnel wants to do. In the moment, you are completely at its mercy. However, before the worst happens, you can minimize the outcomes by following the above steps.

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