Tornado Safety

Finding the safest place during a Tornado

As the storm moved into our area of Cleveland Tn and Bradley county, there was a lot of talk about tornado safety and the safest places to hide during a tornado. The weather men warned to stay away from windows and exterior walls. They warned to stay out of cars and to seek shelter in underground areas and interior rooms like the bath room.

As I drove through the devastated areas to reach the house where I was helping clean up, I was amazed at the destructive power of the tornado. I have come to the conclusion that short of an underground storm shelter, there is no safe place to be when a tornado strikes.

I have often disagreed with the advice of not sheltering in a car. After all, cars are designed for high speed impacts. However, after seeing Bill Maxwell’s Lincoln, I have changed my mind. He told me that just a few minutes before the storm hit he had been sitting in his car listening to the weather reports. He lost reception so he had just made it to his bedroom when the tornado stuck his house.

His Lincoln Town Car, is now a ball of metal sitting in his pasture about a quarter of a mile from his house. The roof is crushed down to the level of the seat. I don’t think even a belted in occupant would have survived the tumbling and crushing of the car.

I still think my race car with a full cage might have fared better, but a normal car is definitely not a safe place. The repeated pounding of the tumbling action completely crushed the passenger compartment of the car.

Another part of a house that seems safe is the fireplace. After all the brick structure is often seen standing long after the rest of a house has rotted away. However, at Bill’s house, the fireplace was cleaned to the concrete base by the winds and parts of the brick chimney were strewn all through the pasture.

Yet another place that people often find shelter in a storm in inside a bathtub. While there have been numerous reports of people riding out the storm in their bathtubs, Bill’s bath tub was found a couple of hundred yards away from his house. I don’t think that would have been a safe ride either.

Bill was in his bedroom when the storm ripped his house apart around him. The four walls of the bedroom were the only thing left standing at his house. He told me he climbed out form where the exterior wall had separated form the foundation. He was greeted there by his dog.

He said he did not know where the dog was during the storm, but he had somehow found a safe place. Based on what I saw while cleaning up the damage at Bill’s house, the only safe place to be is where you are. Apparently if you are protected from damage, you will be safe where ever you are. I think it was Bill’s attitude that protected him more than any of the building parts.

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