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How to survive a tornado

April 29, 2011

About the Author

photo of Peter Wehrwein

Peter Wehrwein, Contributor, Harvard Health

Peter Wehrwein was the editor of the Harvard Health Letter from 1999 to May 2012. He is currently a freelance writer and editor, and contributes to the Harvard Health blog and Before editing the Health Letter, … See Full Bio
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February 12, 2012

This is a good common sense Blog. Very helpful to one who is just finding the resources about this part. It will certainly help educate me.

January 11, 2012

Thank you for posting! This was very helpful with my project.

January 7, 2012

cloudz can be agresive lols! P;

December 21, 2011

2 thumbs up for this very informative post.

December 12, 2011

It was one of the worst years, if no the worst year, for storms like this in Maryland. We had important roads closed down for several days at a time. Was it actually one of the worst in recent history, or did it just seem that way?

November 3, 2011

I’m glad I don’t live in tornado country, but I guess if one comes I will know what to do.

davis vantage vue
November 2, 2011

Great information Peter.So true about this not being an average year. What do you think it will be like next year? I will remember these great tips just in case a time comes when i may need them.I was in the Philippines a few months ago and the weather was not so good there as well.I also bought a weather instruement just to be on the safe side
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October 24, 2011

Great post, especialy liked the part about using a large heavy table to hide underneath to keep out of harms way.

October 18, 2011

I am amaze. You really did a great Post. We don’t really have tornados in our city, but we actually have strong winds, so I might apply the idea that I got from you.
Thank you so much!
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September 20, 2011

The above content article is very impressive, and I genuinely enjoyed reading your weblog and points that you simply expressed. Thanks.

September 6, 2011

We in Tennessee have has our share of nasty weather this summer too. High winds and tornados have caused much damage. We’re seeing more people building safe tornado rooms in their homes. My neighbor actually started his own business doing nothing but that. At least you feel a little more secure when the sirens go off.

Mike Cohen
August 22, 2011

Great post Peter. You were spot on saying that this would not be an average year. We have been getting pounded here in the Midwest. I actually printed up this post and will keep it handy for the great tips. I was in Israel last month and the weather was crazy there as well.
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August 20, 2011

When I was in the MARINES we always were sent out to disaster areas whether it be Hurricanes or Tornados.
We built tent cities for all to live in. Bet you guys never new about that. The government keeps that news to

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August 19, 2011

Great post! I once was on a trip through Ohio and just as we were about to leave the tornado sirens sounded. I was gripped in fear as I had only heard such sounds (being from the NE US) in movies with atomic bomb warnings.

It is was interesting that most people just went on with their days because they were used to the sirens, while my friends and I were stricken and confused.

Also, as a professional roofer, I wonder the incredible stories roofers have in tornado alley, such as cows falling through people roof’s, etc.
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Brady Sutherland
July 31, 2011

I am very young once we had a tornado warning which scared me to death but good to know

July 15, 2011

Good information. In Rhode Island we don’t usually have tornadoes, but this past season we have had a couple, as well as Massachusetts. So, even in our little corner of the country, good stuff to know.
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Blanket Polar
June 26, 2011

Great information here, good thing I’m on the west coast where a tornado wouldn’t likely hit. If it does happen, this article would be a great reference.

Houston Transmission Experts
June 16, 2011

There is always a degree of luck in the survival with nature. You could take all the tips, but when it’s your time; it’s your time. But I do agree you would do anything/everything to survive even if it gives you at least an extra fraction of survival

Chris Hunsicker
June 15, 2011

I always wonder how much warning is ever available that a tornado is coming.

June 8, 2011

Good methods,very useful!

Miranda Kolthoff
May 28, 2011

I’ve been fighting panic attacks for monthsI think. Completely taken over my life, I can tell you that much.

Stuart Clarke
May 12, 2011


After a storm, there are other dangers to be aware of. Many homeowners will be trying to secure their property and some will have to climb on their roofs. I would like to share some ladder safety tips to help prevent injuries.

Ladder safety:
Falls are the number one cause of accidental death in the home. Even experienced builders and construction workers make mistakes, so here are the things you should always do when using a ladder.

OSHA states that for every 4 feet a ladder goes up, it should come out 1 foot. If the roof is 12 feet high, the base of the ladder should be 3 feet from the edge of the roof.
Next, the ladder must be level. If the ground is not level, move to a spot that is. The ladder must be set firmly and evenly on the ground. I prefer to fold out the ladder’s pointed feet and embed them into the yard. Others prefer to have the ladder’s rubber feet on concrete. If you prefer the latter for your ladder, then be sure to sweep the concrete clean before setting the ladder to prevent it from sliding out.

Securing the ladder:
If possible, drill a hole in the fascia of the house and insert an eye hook or other means to tie the ladder to. We use two of them that are three quarters of an inch thick to tie our ladder to the roof. It is stronger than we should ever need, but your life is worth more than a few dollars and a few minutes to secure a ladder.

Proper footwear:
Wear good fitting shoes or better yet, work boots! Do not wear loose fitting shoes like flip flops or crocs on a roof or while climbing. If your foot rotates inside or slides out of the shoe, you have a very good chance of falling off the roof and being hurt. As the angle of the roof increases, the force exerted on your shoe surrounding your foot can cause your shoe to roll around your foot.

Although this should be obvious, if you are not stable on flat ground or you are prone to tripping and falling, please have someone else repair your roof.

Finally, there are volumes of books on construction safety; please consider going to the OSHA website for more information.

Those of you in the storm-hit areas have been through enough; there is no reason for anyone else to be hurt by having an accident on a ladder. With these tips, hopefully you will get your damage repaired safely.

You are in our prayers,

Stuart Clarke

Brady Sutherland
July 31, 2011

thanks Stuart there was a tornado where I live but Iwas never born yet [I”m pretty young]

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