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Tornado Experts: Best Shelter Choice Depends On Situation

tornado shelter

Photo: Dana Byerly (flickr)

Some public facilities have tornado shelters marked, but people must also learn where the safest places are in their homes.

The message is familiar: In the event of a tornado, go to an interior room on the lowest level you can reach. But what if that lowest level is a second floor?

Monroe County Emergency Management Coordinator Jim Comerford says even a closet or bathroom on a higher story can provide some shelter – at least in a building bolted to its foundation.

“The general theory there would be, is a newer home’s going to be better anchored than an older home,” he says. “But that’s dependent on the builder doing it properly and it being inspected properly.”

National Weather Service meteorologist Dave Tucek says bathtubs also offer shelter.

“Because bathtubs are essentially a metal shell with a ceramic coating on it and so they’re pretty sturdy,” he says. “They’re also hooked up to the plumbing of the house, which then ties it in some ways into the ground.”

Tucek says only two percent of Indiana tornadoes become F4 or F5 monsters capable of blowing houses apart. But he adds it’s unwise to underestimate even relatively weak tornadoes.

“Once you’ve got missiles flying that are pretty hard, say like a tree limb, that can do some pretty serious damage to the human body,” he says.

However, that 2 percent of storms causes 70 percent of tornado deaths.

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