Unfortunately, many parts of the country have been impacted by severe storms and tornadoes in recent weeks. Our attorneys are thinking of these people in this time of tragedy and need. However, while we cannot control the weather, we feel it is important to discuss what we can do to best protect ourselves when dangerous weather strikes. Hopefully, with the knowledge of safety tips, Midwest motorists can remain safe from injury.
You may have wondered what to do if you are in your car when inclement and hazardous weather strikes. What if you are not close to home? What if you are on the highway and not close to any shelter, or if you are on a rural road and have no place for miles to pull over to safety?
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there are signs to look for to know if a tornado is coming. When you do not see a visible tornado, be on the lookout and listen for a strong and persistent rotation in the clouds. Also, pay attention for whirling dust and debris under a cloud base, because sometimes tornadoes may not have a funnel. Drivers should also be watchful for tornadoes when here there is hail or heavy rain followed by the onset of a calm period or the onset of a fast or intense shift in the winds.
If you are in your car or truck when a tornado strikes, there are steps you can take to better your chances of survival. If you cannot find shelter and you are caught in the extreme winds or any flying debris, park your car out of traffic lanes, and stay inside with your seatbelt on. Keep your head below the windows, and cover yourself with a blanket, coat, or some other type of cushioning. Drivers should also avoid crossing bridges during the heights of storms because these structures offer little protection from flying debris.
At times it can be beneficial to get lower than the roadway, by seeking shelter in a ditch. However, according to The Weather Channel, there are pros and cons to staying in your vehicle versus going to a ditch. The benefits of staying in your vehicle mean that the metal frame of your car may offer you a shield against the wind and debris. Your seat belt may give you support if the vehicle is tossed or overturned. If you seek refuge outside of your care in a ditch, you can get lower than the roadway, putting yourself below the strong winds and the debris that is at ground level. However, you do run the risk of being hit with flying debris.
These tips are for those who have run out of options and cannot seek shelter. It is still best to get off the road and seek shelter if and when a tornado is approaching. The Weather Channel advises to never continue driving during tornado conditions and do not attempt to out-drive a tornado either because they can quickly change course and lift your vehicle into the air. Our attorneys care about the safety of our members of the community and advise all drivers to follow these guidelines. If there is a tornado watch or warning, you should try to avoid driving altogether. If you are on your way home, listen to local news and radio to get updated information and alerts and if you know that a tornado is nearing, get off of the road and seek any solid structure that could provide you with better protection than your car. Remember, that being safe can be the difference between life and death in these dangerous situations, and we should do all that we can to protect ourselves from harm’s way.