Red Cross adopts new tornado safety procedures

By: Martha Spencer Email
By: Martha Spencer Email

Most tornado safety guidelines advise when you are caught near a tornado and you are driving to leave your vehicle and take cover in the nearest ditch. But a study conducted in 2002 has convinced The American Red Cross to adopt a new method of protection.

The study that was examined looked at historical evidence of tornado damage, injuries and fatalities. Now Americans are faced with choosing between two different theories on where is the safest place to be during a tornado.

"The biggest cause of death from tornados is blunt force trauma from debris." said Susan Holmes, Wiregrass American Red Cross Director.

This statistic along with a study done in 2002 examining storm fatalities has convinced The American Red Cross to write their own tornado safety guidelines, which differ significantly from the commonly known rules adopted by the National Weather Service.

"Years ago we were taught if you spotted a tornado outside you layed down in a ditch and covered your head with your hands, no we're realizing that’s going to open up potentially other dangers" according to Holmes.

Flying debris, hail, and even ditches flooding with water can become potential hazards when you are not in a vehicle.

Holmes said, "if you'll stay inside your vehicle with your seatbelt on, get below the level of the windows and leave the engine running, you're going to be much safer."

If possible, the American Red Cross recommends driving at a right angle away from a tornado. Tornadoes often move towards the northeast, but not always.

If you can't get away, having your car turned on enables the airbags to deploy if a tornado encounters it. The American Red Cross strongly urges people to have a safety plan ready when a tornado watch is issued. This has been having frequently in the wiregrass, but should always be taken seriously.

"First and foremost the very safest place to be is in a substantial building, never in a mobile home under any circumstances. if you are caught outside and cannot get to safe shelter either in a basement or a storm shelter anything underground or an interior room in a building then you're going to want to stay with your vehicle." said Holmes.

While The National Weather Service has not adopted these plans, both organizations agree that a mobile home is the absolute worst place to be during a storm.

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