Tornadoes are one of nature's most sudden, dangerous and severe threats. Even straight-line winds from a severe thunderstorm can cause significant damage and put you and your home in danger. History has shown time and again that large thunderstorms bringing with them tornadoes can obliterate entire neighborhoods, buildings and residences in a matter of a few seconds. Tornadoes can strike instantly, carry with them 300 miles-per-hour wind speeds and sometimes be nearly invisible. Always remain in your shelter or safe room well past the sound of the high winds, severe rain or debris to ensure that the dangerous storm effects are past. The best defense against severe weather is to prepare for it well in advance and give yourself the information and tools necessary to be ready before it reaches you.
Stay abreast of all your local weather information. Radio, television and Internet are all handy tools for this but we recommend a battery powered weather radio as a backup. Should power go out, which it generally does in a severe storm, your NOAA weather radio will still operate and keep you informed of what to expect. Know the difference between a "tornado watch" and a "tornado warning." A "tornado watch" means conditions are right for severe weather formation and potentially tornadoes. If a "tornado watch" is issued, remain alert, stay tuned to your local weather and be ready to go to your shelter in the event of a warning. A "tornado warning" is issued when an actual tornado has been spotted or is visible through weather radar technology. If a "tornado warning" is issued, take your family and go to your shelter immediately.
Have a safe place to take shelter from the oncoming storm. An ATSA (American Storm Shelter Association) or NSSA (National Storm Shelter Association) certified storm shelter or safe room is your safest bet. Manufacturers certified by either of these organizations have gone through rigorous 3rd party engineering evaluation and debris impact testing for all of their products certifying that they meet all of the standards set forth by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), ICC-500 (International Code Council) and their IBC (International Building Code). U.S. Storm Shelters is a Producing Member of the ATSA and all of our storm shelters and safe rooms are certified safe.
Check your shelter or safe room at least once every 3-6 months to be sure it is ready and stocked for you and your family if you need it. We recommend a good supply of bottled water, a flashlight or battery powered camping lantern with extra batteries for backup along with your weather radio. If you have small children, try and make your shelter as welcoming and comfortable as possible with soft places for the kids to sit or lay down and something they can do while waiting for the storm to pass. Many of our customers have battery powered DVD players in their safe rooms and storm shelters so their children can put on headphones, relax and enjoy a good movie while the storm blows over.