Disaster Planning

How Safe are You and Your Family from Tornados?

A tornado, also known as a twister or a cyclone, is one of the most destructive forces of nature on Earth. Some of these monsters can obtain wind speeds of over 300 MPH. The damage they inflict is incredible.

I honestly hope you have never witnessed a tornado. However, you probably have seen Man of Steel, Twister, or The Wizard of Oz. Those movies, fictional as they are, appropriately convey the horror and threat of the cyclone storm.

Photo by Wikipedia.

If you and your family ever encounter a tornado, there are certain things you need to know. Surviving a tornado may seem unlikely but it can be accomplished. The Shadow Fox site published a fantastic, compact article on How to Survive a Tornado.

The F-Scale

To prepare for these deadly storms, one should understand what they are and how powerful they can be. Tornadoes are classified by intensity on a scale of 0 – 5; the scale is dubbed “F…” after Dr. Ted Fujita.

F-0. Winds of 65 to 85 MPH. These are strong but usually cause minimal damage.

F-1. 86 to 110 MPH winds. These produce moderate damage and can blow over mobile homes and RVs.

F-2. 111 to 135 MPH winds. These are strong enough to completely destroy trailers and do considerable damage to conventional houses. The wind is strong enough to overturn a car.

F-3. 136 to 165 MPH. This level does significant damage. The winds are capable of removing entire floors from homes and even toppling locomotives.

F-4. Winds of 166 to 200 MPH. These are devastating events. They obliterate houses and toss cars through the air.

F-5. Winds over 200 MPH. These are nightmare storms. In addition to leveling residential neighborhoods they can actually cause significant damage to steel and concrete skyscrapers.

Heed Tornado Warnings

The “funnel” cloud is the tell-tale sign of a tornado. It is formed by rapidly swirling wind which carries debris aloft. If you see one, avoid it at and/or seek shelter immediately. Of course, by the time you see one, it could be too late for much preparation. Be alert for publicly-issued Watches and Warnings.

A watch is advised when tornadoes are likely in a given area. Warnings are issued when a tornado is actually in the area. If a watch is issued, prepare to hunker down. If a warning is broadcast, seek shelter immediately.


The winds of a tornado may approach 300 MPH. However, the storm itself moves considerably slower. If you have enough warning, you can flee in a car. Shadow Fox recommends driving away from the storm at a right angle in order to escape as fast as possible.

If evacuating is not an option, experts agree you should take shelter as fast as possible. Inside a structure, get as low and as centered as possible. A basement provides the best protection. Cover yourself with something heavy to avoid debris. If you are outside, the experts recommend lying flat on the ground or in a ditch. The object is to be at or below ground level, allowing the winds to pass over you.

Photo by Nat’l. Weather Service / Wikipedia.

I survived the 1998 Dunwoody (GA) Tornado. That was an F-2 storm. It produced the damage seen in the picture immediately above. I was approximately 1,000 feet from where the funnel passed. It is an experience I do not care to ever re-live.

However, I did survive. Most people do. If I remember correctly, the 1998 storm damaged hundreds of homes but only killed one to two people. More than 1,000 tornadoes strike the U.S. every year. Most people make it through alive, even if their homes are shattered. By taking precautions and heeding warnings, you and your family can survive too.

Read: Here’s how to look after your family in a disaster!

Perrin Lovett writes about freedom, firearms, and cigars (and everything else) at www.perrinlovett.me. He is none too fond of government meddling.

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