Essential Emergency Supplies to Survive Any Disaster
What you have on hand for emergency supplies can and will most likely save your life when a major disaster hits. As you go through each day knowing that something terrible could happen, why not have them on hand?
How to Survive a Natural Disaster
Natural disasters can strike seemingly anytime and often with little warning. Learn what the most dangerous natural disasters are and tips for preparing and surviving any that strike.
Tornadoes brought terrible destruction to multiple U.S. states in April, 2011 - one of the worst months on record. Only one month later an extreme tornado outbreak took place in multiple states yet again, killing 158, and destroying the city of Joplin, Missouri.
(Discovery Channel: The Birth of a Super Tornado)
Are tornadoes getting bigger?
It would seem that way. The loss of life and property has been staggering in these recent events.
Recent Tornadoes a Reminder: Be Prepared
It also serves as a warning for the rest of us of the need to prepare
against nature's grandest atmospheric force, the tornado. At their
greatest strength, twisters can approach speeds of 320 miles per hour -
enough power to level the best-constructed brick walls, rip large homes
from their foundations and up into the air, and throw tractor-trailers a
distance of about 300 feet.
Where Tornadoes Strike
The greatest and most frequent tornado occurrences happen in the
United States. Tornadoes can in fact form in any state, but they occur
most frequently in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois,
Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska,
Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas.
Whether you live in this group of states - often called "Tornado
Alley" - or not, spring brings the increased possibility of a deadly
tornado. Are you prepared?
Learn about the atmospheric
events that signal the possibility of a tornado -- and what safety
measures you can take to survive if a twister hits.
Tornadoes - 'The Finger of God'
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) defines a tornado as:
A tornado is a violent windstorm characterized by a
twisting, funnel-shaped cloud. It is spawned by a
thunderstorm (or sometimes as a result of a hurricane) and produced when
cool air overrides a layer of warm air, forcing the warm air to rise
rapidly. The damage from a tornado is a result of the high wind velocity
and wind-blown debris. Tornado season is generally March through August,
although tornadoes can occur at any time of year. They tend to occur in
the afternoons and evenings: over 80 percent of all tornadoes strike
between noon and midnight.
Each year, about 100,000 thunderstorms form over the United States.
Between 600 and 1,000 of those thunderstorms will give birth to
Some may also remember the now famous quote from the film 'Twister',
when a character asked a group of meteorologists following a series of
tornadoes - "storm chasers" - how they would define the strongest
twisters. After a moment of silence, one of them replies with a depth of
feeling approaching awe that such an event is "the finger of God."
That's a high statement. But there's something about the greatest
tornadoes that makes the highness hard to dismiss.
*Tornadoes are the most destructive of all weather-related events,
and produce the most violent winds on earth. Winds inside the greatest
twisters can swirl well over 300 mph.
*Tornadoes can be nearly invisible, marked only by swirling debris at
the base of the funnel. Some are composed almost entirely of windblown
dust; others can be composed of several mini-funnels.
*Twisters can reach heights of 60,000 feet into the atmosphere.
*On average, during a tornado's 'path' - the total area certain to
suffer at least some destruction by its deadly force - the twister will
travel about 4 miles on the ground and cut a swath about 400 yards wide;
but the worst ones can travel for 100 miles and be as large as a mile
*The average tornado travels along the ground at a speed of 25 to 40
mph., but can go from one place to the next at speeds of up to 70 mph.
*Twisters stay on the ground for an average of four to five minutes;
however, a tornado can touch down several times.
*Most tornadoes move from southwest to northeast.
*Most twisters in the Northern Hemisphere rotate in a
counter-clockwise direction. Most in the Southern Hemisphere rotate in a
*Building damage during a tornado happens when high winds cause a
buildup of pressure on building surfaces. This pressure is wind velocity
*Most tornadoes occur between 3 pm and 7 pm
*Tornadoes occur throughout the world; however, the greatest number
and most intense, deadly tornadoes occur in the United States.
*About 800 tornadoes touch down in the United States each year.
*Half of all tornadoes occur during the spring months of April, May,
*Only 2 percent of tornadoes are considered violent, but those storms
cause 70 percent of tornado-related deaths.
*In November 1988, a rash of 121 tornadoes struck 15 south central
states, resulting in 14 lives lost and damages reaching $108 million.
*According to the National Weather Service, about 42 people are
killed because of tornadoes each year.
Luckily, we are not mere sitting ducks, even against something as
powerful and unpredictable as a twister. Every year, scientists and
meteorologists are learning more about the formation and behavior of the
mighty winds. This has resulted in quicker and more reliable emergency
broadcasts accurately predicting where a tornado will appear and its
For instance, the quick reports of twisters possibly headed into the
heart of Oklahoma City in May of '99 certainly saved many lives. Those
reports were only possible because of what had been learned about
twisters in the early and mid-90s.
Also, the fact that tornadoes usually strike between 3-7 pm gives us
a fairly certain time frame in which to look out for them, and ensures
us that most people will be awake and will probably hear reports
immediately if a dangerous situation arises.
And in the US, if a situation begins as we're outside away from a
radio or TV or when we're asleep, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) weather alert radio receiver - equipped with the
famous warning siren - can warn of an impending tornado if people are
away from the usual immediate sources.
The Fujita - Pearson (FPP) Tornado Scale
Shortly, this is a system of estimating and reporting both tornado
wind intensity, devised by Professor T. Theodore Fujita (1920-1998), and
path length and width by Allen Pearson in 1971. It was quickly taken up
as the best means to rate a twister's destructive capacity. The scale
is based on the damage a tornado causes on man-made structures.
According to Fujita and Pearson, the size of a tornado's funnel is
not an indication of its intensity. The Fujita Scale is therefore
based on damage, not the appearance of the funnel.
*F0 - Gale Tornado 40-72 mph
Path length 0.3-0.9 miles; path width 6-17 yards
Light damage; Some damage to chimneys; branches broken off trees;
shallow-rooted trees pushed over; sign boards damaged.
Moderate damage; The lower limit is the beginning of hurricane wind
speed; peels surface off roofs; mobile homes pushed off foundations or
overturned; moving autos pushed off the road; attached garages may be
Strong frame houses lifted off foundations and carried considerable
distances to disintegrate; automobile-sized missiles fly through the air
100 yards or more; trees debarked; steel reinforced concrete structures
Awesome Power of a Tornado
Now that you know about the awesome power behind a tornado, unless you're a professional and risk life and limb for a living, under no circumstances should
you ever attempt to follow or chase a twister down. They are, for all
practical purposes, still quite unpredictable, and may surge with far
greater strength, disappear and reappear, or change direction at a
We are a survival site, and so the very best advice we can give is to
let the storm chasing to those who are either sufficiently trained,
or simply stupid enough, to follow one of these things. You're not
actors on a movie set; there is no take two in real-life. Your only
worry should be to protect yourself, those you care for, and your home
as best you can. How do you do that?
How To Survive a Tornado
Many thanks here to both the Federal Emergency Management Agency
(FEMA) and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) for their
detailed information on how one can best prepare for a twister - before
it hits, as it's sweeping over you, and immediately after the event.
Many may suppose that they need only worry about the funnel cloud as
it sweeps over them; but without the right preparations beforehand or
maintaining the correct behavior afterward, a person could still easily
end up becoming one of those injured, if not worse. Avoid such problems
by knowing what to do before it happens.
Before a Tornado
The best precautions before a twister hits:
Determine the best location in both your home and where you work or go to school
where you can take shelter when threatened by a tornado. A basement or
cellar will usually afford the best protection. If an underground
shelter is not available, identify an interior room or hallway on the
Conduct periodic tornado safety drills with your family.
Especially if you live in 'tornado alley', you should know the
locations of designated shelters in places where you and your family
spend time, such as public buildings, nursing homes and shopping
centers. Ask whether your children's' schools have identified shelter
Have emergency supplies on hand: Candles, flashlights, 3-5 days of food for each
person in your family, 3-5 days of
bottled water for each person in your family, propane cooking stove, extra propane, cold weather clothing,
cold weather sleeping gear, rain gear, axe, lighters, wooden matches, gasoline stored in
approved containers away from the home such as in or outside a shed on your property.
Be Able to Turn Off Utilities
Learn how to shut off the utilities to your home. Purchase a wrench specifically
for shutting off natural gas.
Have Plans for Locating Family Members
Decide how and when your family will reunite, if separated. Carefully go over a map of the
area and have a Plan A meeting place as well as a Plan B (should Plan A
be flooded, destroyed, or have something else take place making it unsuitable or
inacessible to meet other family members).
Make an inventory of your possessions. Take photographs and / or
videotape your belongings. Keep records in a safe deposit box or some
other safe place away from the premises. You may want these to aid
later insurance claims.
Emergency Weather Radio
Purchase a National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio with battery backup and tone-alert
feature which automatically alerts you when a Watch or Warning is
issued. Or simply purchase a battery-powered commercial radio, and extra
batteries. Make sure from time to time that you know
where the radio is, that it still works, and that all the batteries are
Know Your Area
Make sure you know the names of the towns and counties in which you
live, work and haunt. They are used during both tornado warnings and
watches to identify the area of potential tornadoes; therefore a solid
knowledge here is essential. Keep a good, easy-to-read map in your car
if you travel frequently, one that clearly details names of counties -
which authorities use as the principal markers in spotting tornado
activity - as well as towns.
Also, remember the terms used to describe tornado threats: Tornado
Watch and Tornado Warning. What's the difference?
A tornado watch is issued by the National Weather Service
when tornadoes are possible in your area. Remain alert for approaching
storms. This is the time to remind family members where the safest
places within your home are located.
During a tornado watch, observe the sky and listen to radio or
television for more information. Be prepared to take shelter. If you see
any revolving funnel-shaped clouds, report them immediately by telephone
to your local law enforcement agency. If they appear to be headed your
way, seek shelter in a well-constructed, sturdy building or structure as
soon as possible.
For some reason mobile homes have a tradition of being destroyed
by tornadoes. If you do live in a mobile home this is the time to
temporarily move to a more substantial structure. Considering how
dangerous tornadoes can be, if you live in tornado alley get yourself
a home that is built with tornado survival in mind, such as a cellar you can
take shelter in when the sirens sound or a tornado is on it's way.
But if you find yourself living in a mobile home when a tornado strikes, it's
recommended that you find yourself a nearby ditch or culvert as soon as possible
and simply lie as flat as you can and wait (and pray) for it to pass you by.
If you're not a big fan of taking shelter in a ditch or culvert, don't wait till the last minute
to make the move from a mobile home finally. Make
sure you, and those you care for, are protected. Move now, if you can. Or
start making preparations to move.
A tornado warning is issued when a tornado has been
actually sighted or indicated by weather radar. During a tornado
warning, everyone should take shelter, turn on a battery-operated radio
or television, and wait for the "all clear" announcement by authorities.
If you've heard there's a tornado warning in your area, call your
local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter about it
if you care to know more. Also ask about community warning signals.
If there's one thing we can't stress enough, it's that you need to
have your wits about you, and use all your senses in determining any
If you know there's a tornado warning in your area and the skies
around you look particularly dark, or there seems to have been a sudden
drop in barometric pressure, seek shelter immediately. Take along at
least one radio (any one will do but an NOAA radio would admittedly be
best) and some water if you can.
Consider having a pre-packed backpack with clothes and emergency food, water
and survival supplies for each member of your family.
Signs a Tornado is About to Strike
Watch for any unusual behavior out of animals: Does your dog or cat
seem particularly anxious? Does there seem to be a sudden drop of birds
in your area, especially since the skies have become darker or the
pressure has fallen? That may also be a good indication that a twister
is about to appear in your immediate area. Seek shelter when you can,
taking with you the things mentioned above.
If there's one constant with a twister, it's the sound that
accompanies the tornado: it has most often been described as a deep
rumble that builds into a roar.
Even if there hasn't been a tornado watch called in your area, if
there is at least a tornado warning in your county or if the skies seem
particularly ominous and the air possesses that drop in air pressure,
and you begin to hear such a steady sound, seek shelter
immediately. Unless you live next to a train station or airport
runway (the sound of a twister has been compared to the long, low rumble
of a speeding train more than anything else), take immediate precaution
at anytime you hear noise that sounds like this or similar.
Don't bother to go outside and investigate; it may be too late for
that. These things can hit fast -- dropping out of the sky and taking out
whatever happens to be waiting on the earth below. Always be aware of that.
Don't be complacent about a possible tornado once that warning has gone out.
The simplest advice? Be ready to take shelter if and when the need
calls for it.
During a Tornado
When a tornado has been sighted in your immediate area take the
Go at once to your predetermined shelter (the basement, storm cellar,
or the lowest level of the building). Stay there until the danger has
If there isn't a basement, go to an inner hallway or a small inner room
without windows, such as a bathroom or closet.
However much you want to see the storm, stay away from all windows,
doors, and outside walls.
Go directly to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because
they tend to attract debris. Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such
as a workbench or heavy table and hold on to it for all you're worth.
Use sofa cushions or your arms to protect your head and neck.
If in a mobile home, get out and seek shelter elsewhere. A mobile
home can overturn very easily even if precautions have been taken to tie
down the unit. If there isn't a substantial shelter nearby, seek shelter
in a low-lying area. Use your arms to protect your head and neck.
In a Public Building (School, Hospital, Factory, Shopping Center,
Go to the basement or to an inside hallway, a small, interior room,
or a bathroom or closet on the lowest possible level.
Avoid places with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums, cafeterias,
gymnasiums, and large hallways.
Stay away from windows and open spaces.
Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench or heavy
table or desk and hold on to it.
Don't Stay Outdoors During a Tornado
If possible, get inside a substantial building.
If shelter is not available or there is no time to get indoors, lie
in a ditch, culvert, or low-lying area or crouch near a strong building.
Use your arms to protect your head and neck. Be alert for potential
In A Vehicle During a Tornado
Never try to outrun a tornado in a vehicle. Heavy rain, hail,
and traffic may impede your movement, and tornadoes can travel as
quickly as 70mph over dry land. Tornadoes can quickly change directions,
and can easily lift up a vehicle and toss it through the air.
Pull to the side of the road avoiding trees, power lines and other
objects that could fall or be hazardous.
Get out of the vehicle immediately and try to take shelter in a
If there isn't time to get indoors, get out of the vehicle and lie in
a ditch, culvert, or low-lying area away from the vehicle. Use your arms
to protect your head and neck.
After a Tornado
Monitor the radio or television for emergency information or
Check for injured victims. Render first aid if necessary.
Do not attempt to move severely injured victims unless absolutely
necessary. Wait for emergency medical assistance to arrive.
Look out for broken glass and downed power lines.
Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
Try to get out of damaged buildings. Once out, do not reenter unless
it's absolutely necessary. Use great caution at all times.
Take photos or videotape the damage to your home or property.
If driving, be alert for hazards in the roadway.
Check on neighbors/relatives who may require special assistance.
If unaffected by the tornado, stay out of the damaged area until
allowed in by officials; your presence may hamper emergency operations.
However, if a clear need arises for help, be ready and willing -- but
be smart -- about helping others in need. May God come to your aid --
he's always just a prayer away.
The Most Important Reminders
1. The best protection during a tornado is in an interior room on the
lowest level of a building, preferably a safe room.
2. Tornadoes strike with incredible velocity. Wind speeds may approach
320 miles per hour. These winds can uproot trees and structures and turn
harmless objects into deadly missiles, all in a matter of seconds.
Mobile homes are particularly vulnerable to tornadoes.
3. Injury or deaths related to tornadoes most often occur when
buildings collapse, people are hit by flying objects or are caught
trying to escape the tornado in a car.
4. Tornadoes are most destructive when they touch ground. Normally a
tornado will stay on the ground for no more than 20 minutes; however,
one tornado can touch ground several times in different areas.
5. Tornadoes can occur practically anywhere, but are most prevalent in
the US, and are most frequent in the Midwest, Southeast and Southwest.
The states of Oklahoma, South Dakota, Missouri, Nebraska, Illinois,
Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana,
Mississippi, and Texas are at greatest risk.
The media can raise awareness about tornadoes by providing important
information to the community. A few quick suggestions:
1. Publish a special section in your local newspaper with emergency
information about tornadoes. Localize the information by printing the
phone numbers of local emergency services offices, the American Red
Cross, and hospitals.
2. Periodically inform your community of local public warning systems.
3. Sponsor a "Helping Your Neighbor" program at your local schools to
encourage children to think of those persons who require special
assistance such as elderly people, infants, or people with disabilities.
4. Conduct a series on how to protect yourself during a tornado in
case you are at home, in a car, at the office, or outside.
5. Interview local officials about what people living in mobile home
parks should do if a tornado warning is issued.
Many homes in the US 'Deep South' are for some reason built without a
basement - a fact that is particularly strange since so many southern
states are part of 'tornado alley'. In apparent response to this, a word
FEMA is urging people who live in tornado-prone areas to make sure
they have a tornado-safe place to go during a tornado. In the absence of
a basement, a tornado-safe room build within the house will protect your
family during a tornado.
Properly built safe rooms can provide
protection against winds of 250 miles per hour and against flying
objects traveling at 100 miles per hour. The plans for the safe rooms
were developed along with the Wind Engineering Research Center of Texas
Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.
There's no word on price; if you wish to know more, feel free to
check out FEMA's website.
Survival Gear: The Top 10 Survival Gear
The survival gear that makes this Top Ten list might surprise you. Effectiveness, ease of use, "survival power" and finally the price all play a factor. If our nation collapses or catastrophic disaster strikes, what gear will you have on hand?
Global Collapse: America in Flames: Defending Your Town Against Hostiles
Special Forces tactics for fighting dangerous people, keeping yourself concealed and ultimately taking out the enemy. Both combat and non-combat tactics are presented, including reconnaissance and emergency medicine.