8 tornado safety tips to pass along

In some parts of the country, twister season starts in just a few days, so we’re providing a list of tornado safety tips to pass along to clients. Officially, the season is April – June, but in actuality, twisters can occur in just about any month. If you’re a numbers lover, here are a few stats for you:

  • Some 1,224 tornadoes touch down every year in the U.S.
  • Texas sees the most funnels, followed by Kansas, Oklahoma, Florida, Nebraska and Illinois.
  • 227 people are killed annually in a tornado.
  • Tornadoes wreak $1.086 billion in damage every year.
  • Our worst tornado outbreak was late April 2011, when 175 twisters killed 316 in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Virginia.

Tornadoes are like snowbirds, says USTornadoes.com: They winter in the South (meaning that they can strike there during winter months); then, as the earth warms up, they head north and northwest through the Mid-South and Southeast in early spring, into the Plains and Midwest by summer, and even hit the Canadian border by July, before heading south again for the winter.

Anyone living in Tornado Alley (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and sometimes Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio) knows not to underestimate the power of the funnel force. However, as mobile as society is these days, you may have several clients new to your area who haven’t experienced funnels first-hand and don’t know safety tips. So we’ve compiled tornado safety tips from both Insurance Journal and PropertyCasualty360.com for you to provide your clients.

  • Purchase a weather radio, which issues alerts from your local National Weather Service.
  • Prepare an emergency kit to keep on-hand for the aftermath, that includes water, food, flashlight, prescriptions and more. WikiHow has an in-depth list with photos; Oklahoma’s Emergency Medical Services Authority also has a list.
  • Ensure your home inventory is up-to-date, whether it’s a list, a series of photos or a video, to help you in reporting losses. Be sure to capture images of valuables such as artwork, antiques, firearms, jewelry, etc. Save these photos and inventory to the cloud or someplace where you can easily access them afterwards.
  • Pick your safe place: At home, keep a clear path to your basement, if you have one. Or choose an interior room or closet on the lowest floor. Put as many walls between you and the exterior as possible. At work, decide now where to go if a warning is given.
  • Know the terms: Tornado Watch means just that: Watch. Be on the lookout, because conditions are looking like a twister is a good possibility. Tornado Warning: A funnel has been spotted; head to your safe spot now.
  • When a Watch is issued, secure outside items that could become projectiles such as outdoor furniture, trash cans, etc. – if it’s safe to do so. Move vehicles inside the garage. If you’re in a mobile home, re-check your tie-downs and be ready to move to a safer location.
  • If you’re in the car when a Warning is issued, drive to a close-by safe spot if possible. If not, get away from your vehicle and into the lowest spot possible, such as a ditch. Insurance Journal warns that under a bridge may not be a safe spot, because winds can roar greater due to a change in air pressure when the funnel passes over.
  • If at home when the Warning sounds, grab cushions, pillows or a mattress to use as a cover against flying debris.

Very often warnings are issued in mere seconds before a tornado hits, so encourage your clients to use these tornado safety tips to prepare now before the storms are forecast.