Dozens of you have sent me the same e-mail over the past week or two. “What is the safest place during a tornado?” For many years Meteorologists advocated being in the southwest corner of the basement. Gone is that notion as it really doesn’t matter what geographical location you’re in.
The #1 thing you need to do is get yourself away from windows. Generally, tornadoes in our part of the world aren’t mammoth EF4′s or EF5′s. Weaker tornadoes won’t “tear down” your house, instead they will do roof, siding, and window damage. Protecting yourself from flying glass is the main goal here.
To protect yourself from stronger tornadoes, you will want to be in a reinforced area. Generally, staircases are put on interior parts of the home. Being underneath the stairs provides safety from flying glass, but in addition provides a sturdy reinforcement from above. A final reason why we advocate going under stairs: in a worse-case scenario the stairs will offer an escape should a tornado seriously damage your home. During the recent Poplar Grove tornado of 2008, a family was trapped in the basement of their home because their house collapsed. While they were rescued, they may have had better odds being near the stairs-to-safety.
This post was written by Eric Sorensen on May 2, 2011