In today’s installment of 1,001 ways to die in your RV, we will look at tornadoes. When a tornado strikes, every choice you make can mean the difference between life and death.
A tornado is one of the most dangerous weather related disasters in the Midwestern and Southern United States. Though less common in the other regions of the US, tornadoes have occurred in all 50 states. While tornadoes tend to form in the spring and fall, they can occur at any time of year. Tornadoes can, and do, occur without warning. On average, tornadoes kill about 70 people and injure about 1,500 people every year in the United States.
A tornado can form rapidly, leaving an erratic and deadly path of destruction. Whenever thunderstorms occur, monitor weather conditions for tornado watches and warnings. A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable for a tornado, and a tornado warning means that a tornado has been sighted.
Drive to a nearby shelter is possible. When camping, most campgrounds recommend using the restroom buildings as a shelter. Don’t stay in your RV or vehicle if any other shelter is available. When driving, try to drive perpendicular to the tornadoes path.
Don’t try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle if any shelter is available. Don’t hide under your RV or vehicle. Don’t hide under an underpass, because the wind funnels at greater speed through it.
The greatest danger from tornadoes, is from flying debris. Yes, you can get sucked up into a funnel, but most tornado deaths occur due to people being struck (hit, cut, smashed, impaled, etc.) by flying debris.
If you find yourself with no available shelter, the common advice is to find the nearest ditch or low-lying area and lie flat on the ground, and cover your head with your arms. This advise, however, is surrounded by much controversy and debate. Many believe you are safer inside your vehicle because it will help protect you from flying debris, which is a far greater risk factor than being in a flying car.
If there are no ditches available, or if you’re more afraid of flying debris than flying cars, stay inside your rig, lie down, and cover yourself with a blanket or whatever. Curl into a ball and cover the back of your head with your hands. Remember, however, that people in mobile homes are 15 times more likely to die than people in any other location, and an RV is basically a lightweight mobile home that hasn’t been tied down.
As well as flying debris, falling trees are another great risk which we should try to avoid. Also, be aware that multiple tornadoes can occur, one right after the other.
Since tornadoes can knock out power and utilities for several days, as well as block roads with debris and fallen trees, be prepared with at least 3 days of supplies,water, and food.