Sheltering in place: What to do when tornadoes approach

When a tornado warning is issued, taking shelter as quickly as possible is key. But where should you go when you are work with no basement or in a second story of an apartment building?

When the skies darken and storms are approaching, it might become necessary to head for cover. Apartment complexes will sometimes have a dedicated underground shelter on the premises, but not always. If you live at a complex that doesn’t have an underground shelter available, once the tornado is close, you need to find shelter where you are. So ahead of time, get to know your downstairs neighbors if you live upstairs so you can use their apartment’s low level if a tornado is heading your way. Extend the offer to your upstairs neighbors for them to use your apartment if you live on the ground floor. Getting in the lowest level is key. Once inside, make your way to an interior closet or get to a small bathroom without windows. Getting inside the tub is even better as the sides of the tub make for essentially another set of walls that protect you from the outside.

When you are at work, the same rules apply. Here at KSNT, we’re fortunate to have a basement only a few steps away from the studio. Last April we almost had to make a run for it. We’re certainly thankful it’s here, but if your workplace doesn’t have an underground shelter, you might need to head to an interior bathroom or look for sturdy office furniture to get underneath in a small room on the interior of the building.

What we don’t want people to do is get into their cars and jam up the roads all trying to flee the path and putting themselves in harm’s way in doing so. That’s what happened in May of 2013 in Oklahoma City. After recent tornadoes in the area, people decided to try to get out of the way and ended up log-jamming the roads putting everyone at even greater risk. Those highways weren’t able to efficiently move that large of number of people and it lead to a nearly disastrous traffic nightmare.

Earlier this month, we told you about the shelters available along the Kansas Turnpike, but Karl Koenig of the Kansas Highway Patrol has a good reminder about those shelters, “We encourage you to use them, but we don’t want you to come from your home. We don’t want you to put yourself in more danger driving here from your home and utilizing this as your own shelter. You should have one closer to home or your own basement.”

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