Tornado Faux Pas: Don’t Think You Can Do Any Of These 5 Things, Ever
Tornadoes have targeted the contiguous United States since long before we were a nation; yet somehow, myths about these destructive forces of nature continue to persist. For starters, there is this idea that they are isolated to select parts of the country like hurricanes. Wrong. Pretty much anywhere can get hit by a twister, though some areas are more susceptible than others. (Oklahoma and Arkansas, for instance, are hotbeds.)
The reality is that tornadoes can strike with little warning and transform a landscape within a matter of minutes. And while the damage can be deadly, so can many of the prevailing misconceptions.
Allstate recently shared five of the most common:
No. 1: Opening windows to equalize air pressure can help minimize damage.
This myth is deadly because it causes people to waste valuable time that they should be using to take cover. As Allstate notes, “Do not waste precious time trying to open windows if a tornado is on its way. Doing so may only let in violent winds and flying debris. Seek shelter immediately.”
No. 2: The southwest corner of a basement is the safest place to seek shelter.
First off, if you believe this, then every house ever built without a basement is a deathtrap. This school of thought has survived for far too long when in reality, the level of safety you have correlates with “the soundness and design of your building,” Allstate notes, adding that “you should take shelter in your basement under something sturdy, like a work bench.”
No. 3: Tornadoes don’t hit large metropolitan areas.
Tell this to major cities like Miami, Nashville and Oklahoma City. All three have been struck by tornadoes in the past few years. “Tornadoes can strike anywhere and have been documented on every continent except Antarctica,” says Allstate. “If a tornado warning is issued in your area, take it seriously.” (And remember, Tornado Watch means the conditions are right for a tornado; Tornado Warning means get to the safest place in your home immediately; it could hit in seconds.)
No. 4: Tornadoes only occur in late spring.
Tornadoes do not have a specific time when they can and can’t occur. Irregular weather patterns have led to some striking in the summer and fall. As Allstate notes, “A tornado may occur at any time of day, and on any day of the year. However, tornadoes are most likely to occur in the late afternoon to evening during the warmer months between spring and early summer, when warm, humid air is more likely to collide with cold, dry air.”
No. 5: You can outrun a tornado in your car.
We hesitated to even include this one because it’s so common sense. Yet every year, people put themselves at risk doing this exact thing. If you can, avoid your car during a tornado. Why? For starters, tornadoes can move 60 miles per hour or more, and they can shift directions erratically and without warning. Allstate adds: “Some tornadoes can move faster than cars, even when the road is clear and flat. Also, severe thunderstorms that produce tornadoes can also produce flooding, hail and strong winds in the area.”
If you are driving when a tornado hits, pull over somewhere safe and seek shelter indoors.
Tornadoes are some of the fiercest and deadliest storms that Mother Nature produces. But the chances of surviving one go up significantly if you heed the warnings, act quickly, and know the good advice from the bad. Hopefully, it’s something you’ll never have to experience; but if you do, be prepared and act quickly. Good luck, and be safe out there!