Since tornadoes are often spawned from thunderstorms, there is usually a heavy downpour of rain after the tornado passes, even though there may be no rain present during the actual tornado. Flooding is a very real possibility. There may also be damaging hail. Often, electrical power lines are downed and gas lines may be leaking. Broken limbs, glass, and other debris may litter the ground, creating further hazards.
Is it safe to go outside?
If the building you are taking shelter in is damaged, if there are electrical sparks visible, or the smell of gas or chemical fumes is present, carefully leave the building. If possible, turn off the gas, electricity, and water to the building. Do not return until you are advised by authorities that the structure is safe.
If the building is not damaged and there is no evidence of utility damage, inspect the building for any flammable liquid spills – bleaches, cleaning fluid, etc., and immediately clean them up.
Inspecting utilities in a damaged structure
- Gas – If gas is smelled or a hissing noise is heard, open a window and leave the building at once. If possible, turn off the gas at the outside main valve and call the utility company from a neighboring phone. (If gas is turned off, it must be turned back on by a professional.)
- Electrical – If sparks are seen from broken or frayed wires or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Avoid any water that may have pooled under the fuse or circuit breaker box.
- Water or sewage – If damage to sewage lines is suspected, avoid using toilets and call a plumber. For damaged water lines, call the public utility and do not use water from the tap.
- If possible, immediately take pictures of the damage for insurance purposes.
- Assisting others until help arrives
- Call for help.
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
- Turn on a portable radio for the latest emergency information.
- Don’t enter damaged buildings.
- Seek out neighbors who may require special assistance: those with infants, the elderly or those with disabilities.
- Help injured or trapped persons and give first aid when appropriate.
- Apply CPR only if trained to administer it.
- Don’t try to move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.