Tornadoes are truly terrifying due to their ferocity and erratic travel paths. Even if you live within a sound structure, there is still a chance a freak storm can level and destroy your home. Every area, including Sarasota County, is at risk for tornadoes suddenly touching down and wreaking havoc. Since spring and summer is the most common for tornado strikes, these are the timeframes you should be most diligent about protecting yourself and your family.
First and foremost, you should develop a disaster plan in order to prepare for a tornado. Look at a Sarasota disaster map to determine whether you live in an evacuation and flood zone. In the case of a tornado, you should have a meeting place for your family inside and outside of your home. Many local Sarasota County schools are designated shelters. Practice tornado drills on a regularly basis. Keep emergency cards with updated contact information on your person at all times and store any valuable documents in a secured spot. Any valuables you have inside your home should have coverage through your homeowner’s insurance policy. Make a disaster supply kit to keep on hand in case of an emergency. Supplies within the kit should include fresh drinking water, non-perishable food items, flashlights, batteries, medicine, first aid items, and a portable radio. During storm season, it’s a good idea to secure any outdoor furniture or any other object that can turn into a projectile to prevent it from blowing around during severe weather.
Listen to the radio and TV broadcasts to stay informed about tornado warnings and watches. Choose a safe room within your house in the case of a tornado. Pick a room on the lowest floor of your home, ideally without windows and one that can be reinforced. Look for outdoor weather signs that indicate the possibility of a tornado forming. This can include a rotating cloud base, whirling debris on the ground under a cloud formation, large hail, roaring noise, and a funnel.
During a Tornado
Get to your safe room as soon as possible or pick an alternate with no windows, such as a closet or bathroom. Get under a sturdy structure like a table and cover your body with pillows and blankets if possible. If you are outdoors during a tornado, head to the closest structure or car. In the case you’re driving and flying debris occurs, park the car and keep your seat belt on. Duck down below the windows and cover your head with your hands.
After a Tornado
Stay together with your family and wait for emergency personnel to arrive on the scene. Check everyone for injuries and use the first aid kit for emergency treatment. If you smell any chemicals or natural gas, open a window and then evacuate the premises. Beware of any fallen power lines as well.
If you’re not at your home, wait until officials tell you that it’s safe to return. Wear safety gear while examining your home for damage, such as a hard hat, sturdy boots, goggles, long sleeve pants and shirt. Take photos in order to help expedite insurance claims.
Annually, hundreds of tornadoes devastate communities nationwide. Your homeowner’s policy may only cover a certain portion of the damage depending on the coverage limit set. Keep in mind that certain insurance companies in states like Florida may exclude windstorm and flood damage from their policies due to the high incidence of storms in the state.