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If you have ever lived in or near an area where tornados strike, you know the sheer terror of seeing the low black brooding clouds that still the air and make everything around you appear pink or greenish yellow. When the air motion in these swirling fingers of clouds reach speeds of up to 500 miles per hours the cloud bulges downward forming a funnel and a tornado that will move across the earth at speeds up to 40 miles per hour. In many cases a tornado is announced by huge hail stones or rain drops. In some cases the only prelude is a deathly stillness.
To survive a tornado, if you are living in or travel through an area where they occur often, you should be prepared with a designated shelter or set of safety rules to follow. When you are in a vehicle and you see a tornado approaching you should always move away from the path in right angles. If it is impossible to escape you should exit your vehicle and lie in a ditch or depression face down. In some cases when you are near an overpass it is even safe to leave your vehicle and crawl as deep as possible into the areas where the overpass meets the hill. In all instances when you are caught out in the open exit any vehicle you may be in. The chance of the tornado picking up the vehicle is much greater than that of it lifting a person in a prone position on the ground. Any stationary item that you can grasp at ground level such as a fence post can also be of aid. But stay away from electric and telephone poles.
The safest place to be during a tornado is in a storm shelter. This should be located about 15 feet from your home and should have reinforced concrete walls. Most storm shelter are built 3 feet into the ground and can accommodate 6 to 8 people. The door should face north since most tornados approach from the south. If you do no have a storm shelter but have a basement a small area can be reinforced to create a safe area. You should equip the area with a flashlight, batteries, water, canned food, battery operated radio and a first aid kit. In a case where you have no storm shelter or basement the safest downstairs area of your home is any closet in the center of your home or a bathroom. You should have this area stocked with blankets or a small mattress that can be used for cover against flying debris. If you are in the bathroom, climb into the bathtub and pull the mattress over you. Bathrooms are safe because all the pipes in the walls tend to form a barrier. If you see the tornado coming and have time you should call local authorities to let them know. Open all the windows in your home if the tornado is not close. If you in an upstairs area and cannot make it to the ground floor, an interior hallway is the safest place to be. In a public building you should move to a small room or closet in the northeast corner for maximum protection.