Spring and summer months often bring about thoughts of sunshine, recreation and barbecues. However, if you happen to reside in an area of frequent tornado activity, ominous skies and thunderstorms can spawn dangerous funneling columns of wind, sometimes without warning. This 2011 tornado season has been no exception, with some of the most violent instances of tornado activity in recorded history. Regardless of where you live, including in apartments, these tornado safety tips for apartments can help you prepare for a worst-case scenario.
If your apartment is located in an area with a history of tornado activity, your first step should be to ask your property manager if there are any storm shelters in your complex or building and how the community will warn residents about the danger. Municipal authorities have different methods for alerting the public to impending danger; therefore, you should ask how residents in your area are alerted.
Set up or purchase a portable disaster supply kit, including a battery-powered radio and flashlight, and don’t forget to include extra batteries. A first aid kit and manual, waterproof matches, water and a supply of non-perishable food items are essential supplies. Extra prescription medications, cash, signal flares and clothing are also some items that can help you and your family survive the immediate aftermath of a tornado. Keep your kit handy, and make sure any roommates, family or even guests know where to find it.
If your apartment building is in the path of a tornado, move to the lowest and most centered area of the building you can and stay as far as possible from any windows and in an interior room such as a closet, bathroom or interior hallway. However, do not try to open or close windows; it is a myth that closed windows cause internal pressurization so high that a building can explode. It is vitally important to protect yourself from flying debris and falling objects by staying in a crouched position, low to the ground and covering your head with your hands. You can further shield yourself from harm by hiding beneath sturdy furniture such as a table and using mattresses, sleeping bags or blankets.
Apartment living, even in areas with a history of tornado activity, is an enjoyable experience. Being prepared and having a plan in the unlikely event of a disaster will arm you with the knowledge of what to do should a tornado strike where you live.