The best place to be during a tornado is ______.

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.

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Posted under safety, tornado

This post was written by qni_it on May 2, 2011

3 Comments so far

  1. Bill May 3, 2011 5:32 AM

    When we first moved into our current house and the kids were all smaller, we built a “nest” underneath the stairs in the basement. We’ve maintained it since and now have a recliner and couch and TV right next to it for sleeping on those really “iffy” nights. All the kids know that in the event of a severe storm, that’s the safest place in the house. There’s a battery operated TV/radio and if there’s time to grab a laptop, we can monitor the storms via 13 WREX online to decide when it’s safe to come out. Works for us!

  2. Dianne Mason April 17, 2012 6:33 PM

    I have a staircase in the center of the basement that I want to build somewhat of a safe place for tornados. The problem is there’s a sliding glass door adjacent to that area- 10 ft away. Any ideas on what I could build the dividing wall with that would stop airborne missiles from entering the safe area?

  3. Dianne Mason April 17, 2012 6:35 PM

    Oh and I forgot to mention this is a two story walkout so the entire back wall that houses the door is is not underground.

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