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Emergency Preparedness: Safety Tips for Preparing for a Tornado


June is National Safety Awareness Month and is dedicated to raising awareness across a wide spectrum of potential dangers and hazards, from weather to driving. The first week of National Safety Awareness Month is dedicated to emergency preparedness and as such, Thomas J. Henry will be offering life-saving tips on emergency preparation on potential disasters.

This blog will focus on tornado preparedness, survival, and clean up.

Understanding Risks of Tornadoes

Tornadoes are destructive, costly, and can be deadly. Their high winds—up to 250mph—have been seen to uproot trees, flip cars, and create deadly flying debris.

According to The National Severe Storms Laboratory, about 1,200 tornadoes hit the U.S. yearly, totaling between $1 billion and $3 billion.

During those tornadoes, approximately 1,000 people are injured and 100 people are killed every year.

Tornado-Prone Areas

Knowing your state’s risk and preparing can greatly reduce how devastating a tornado will be.

Tornadoes can happen anywhere in the U.S., but they are most likely to form in what is known as Tornado Alley.

According to U.S. Tornadoes, The Tornado Alley spans an area of approximately 500,000 square miles and has a long-term average of 268 tornadoes every year.

Although Tornado Alley does not have any specific boundary, areas often included within Tornado Alley are portions of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, South Dakota, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, North Dakota, and Minnesota.

The weather conditions in these states provide the ideal environment for tornado formation during the spring and early summer months—May to early June—and usually happen between 4-9 p.m.

Preparing for a Tornado

Since no one knows when or where the next tornado will strike, preparing for one should be immediate. Follow the tips below to make sure you and your family are prepared in case a tornado forms near you:

  • Know the signs of a tornado. Be able to identify its rotating, funnel-shaped cloud and the loud roar—similar to a freight train—that signifies its approach.
  • Sign up for a warning alert system and become familiar with your town’s warning sirens, if they have them.
  • Pay attention to weather reports.
  • Discuss and practice a plan of action with your family in case of an emergency. Make sure they know where to go, what to take, and how to communicate.
  • Know the closest evacuation center.
  • Build a kit. Stock your kit with such items as water, food, flashlights, first-aid kit, manual can opener, cell phone with chargers and backup battery, blankets, extra batteries, garbage bags, and anything else you think you will need. Store kits in your vehicle and in your house where you can quickly access them.

Surviving During a Tornado

During a tornado, taking cover immediately and remaining alert at all times is important. Follow these tips to survive a tornado:

  • Closely follow all directions provided by your local alert system. It will tell you whether evacuation is necessary and if it is safe to do so.
  • If unable to evacuate, take cover either in the basement of your home or in a small room in your home’s interior, such as a closet or bathroom.
  • Do not attempt to outrun a tornado in a vehicle.
  • Stay away from windows. They may shatter and splinter the air with debris.
  • Shield your head and neck with your arms and place blankets and furniture around you.
  • Do not leave your house or the evacuation center until officials deem it safe to do so.

Cleaning After a Tornado

Even after a tornado has departed, it can leave behind dangerous debris. While you are cleaning after a tornado, remember these tips:

  • Wear thick-soled shoes, long pants, and work gloves to protect your skin from sharp edges.
  • Stay away from fallen power lines or broken utility lines.
  • Do not enter damaged buildings until you are told that they are safe.
  • Save your phone calls for emergencies. Phone systems are often down or busy after a disaster.

About Thomas J. Henry

Thomas J. Henry is one of the largest plaintiffs’ firms in the country. The firm currently houses more than 150 attorneys and 350 supporting staff in eight office locations across Texas in San AntonioCorpus ChristiAustin, and Houston.

Each year, the firm is consistently recognized for achieving record-breaking verdicts and industry milestones.

In 2018, Newsweek.com named Thomas J. Henry one of the “Best Personal Injury Attorneys” in the country.

In 2017, the firm achieved one of the 10 largest verdicts recorded in Texas for the year (awarded in 2017 to Thomas J. Henry by Texas Lawyer, an ALM company). That same year, the firm was also recognized as achieving the #1 Texas Car Accident, Bus Accident and Negligent Supervision Verdicts for the year (awarded in 2017 to Thomas J. Henry by TopVerdict.com).

In 2016, Forbes Magazine named Thomas J. Henry a “Texas Leader in Law,” noting Thomas J. Henry’s ability to secure large financial awards, his positive reputation among professional peers, and his dedication to philanthropy at the local, national and global levels. That same year, Thomas J. Henry was featured in Legal Leaders’ Texas’ Top Rated Lawyer guide and received the Litigator Award for extraordinary achievements in the fields of auto accident, catastrophic injury, personal injury and negligent security litigation.

Thomas J. Henry is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum – the latter of which is recognized as one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States with less than 1% of U.S. lawyers listed as members. Thomas J. Henry has also been declared a Lifetime Charter member of Rue Ratings’ “Best Attorneys in America.”

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