A high wind in itself is not the danger, it is the fact that it blows debris around, shreds buildings and sends heavy objects to become heavy missiles is where the danger lies. These storm systems are usually accompanied by heavy rain, hail, and thunderstorms. Before these things occur, have a plan for survival.
The safest place to be during any high wind storm in a basement location, away from windows in the middle room or closet of the house and under a heavy piece of furniture. Invest in an NOAA weather radio to keep track of what is going on. If you do not have a basement, go to the innermost closet or bathroom without windows and hide under heavy furniture.
Some companies manufacture prefabricated shelters that you drop into a hole in the ground that will be safe for tornadoes. During a hurricane, you must listen to the news to determine which type of hurricane is coming your way so you will know if you should stay home and endure the storm or leave and go to a safe shelter.
If a tornado watch is posted, it means that a tornado is possible. If a tornado warning is posted, it means that a tornado has actually been spotted, or is seen on radar, and you need immediate shelter. If a hurricane watch is posted for your area, it only means there is a probability a hurricane will reach your area and you should prepare as if it were coming at you. A hurricane warning means it is coming upon you and you need shelter immediately.
Here are some warnings about an impending tornado:
- A swampy greenish to greenish black color to the sky.
- A sharp, fresh smell in the air that seems unusual.
- If there is a watch or warning posted and you see hail.
- An eerie moment of silence after a thunderstorm.
- Clouds that speed by quickly or in a rotating motion.
- A sound that starts off small like a waterfall and gets louder like a train.
- Debris dropping from the sky.
- A funnel cloud or debris rotating around in a funnel pattern.
With a hurricane, you have the luxury of time to prepare in comparison to a tornado. The conditions for a hurricane are usually spotted days before one actually develops. The sky looks similar to that of a tornado with the greenish cast that is almost black. There is an eerie calm before the storm. Then it hits a wide area for awhile. If the eye of the hurricane passes over you, you hear an eerie silence once again, so don’t be fooled and think it is over because that quickly passes and the winds whip again.
If you see a tornado that does not appear to be moving to the right or to the left when viewed in relation to the trees and power poles in the distance, it could be headed straight for you. Tornadoes can move in any direction, so don’t believe that if you are in a certain direction from the tornado that it won’t come your way.
If you know a hurricane is coming your way, examine the home you live in and listen to what degree of tornado is coming so you will know if you should stay or leave for a shelter. Listen to the news for instructions. It may be advised for everyone to evacuate the area. If that is the case, bring along your emergency kit. You may not be going home for a while. If you stay, make sure you have sturdy shutters securely locked to keep your windows safe (as well as everyone in the house).
If you do not have shutters, use heavy plywood and nail it to the window frame. Have your emergency kit handy and alternative lighting ready. Listen to the battery-operated radio or NOAA radio so you can hear what is really going on outside and when it is safe to leave the house.
If you are in a car, and you can see a tornado leave your car and take shelter in the nearest building or in a ditch or if you have a metal trash can in your trunk, put that over you and try to dig it into the ground. Do not hide in an overpass. A strong tornado could have the heavy steel and concrete on you in an instant.
If you live in a trailer park and there is an impending threat of a hurricane or tornado, leave the area immediately. My theory (although I am not a scientist, it is just what I think) is that tornadoes are attracted to the cluster of metal and tends to be drawn in that direction and unlike really tall and sturdier skyscrapers which may be above the touch down point of a tornado, a trailer park can get the powerful brunt of impact when it attracts it.
In a trailer you have no protection, especially in older models and if it is not grounded by a foundation. The metal can literally rip to pieces around you and shrapnel becomes a deadly weapon against you. If you are in a trailer park, see if there is any way to get a storm shelter for such occasions or at least a ditch. If a hurricane is coming, just go to a shelter and do not try to stay during a storm.
If the problem is just a high wind warning, stay inside like you would during a tornado. No matter what the high wind problem, you may expect to be in one place for a while. Relax and read a book, play a game, or talk to whomever is around you. Expect that the power could go out for hours or days. Have the emergency kit handy for anything that could happen.
After the winds have settled, make sure you look around for dangerous situations such as downed power lines, broken gas pipes or neighbors in need of assistance. Help where you can and call authorities if you cannot do anything about a problem.