Staying safe during a tornado: A WTOL 11 Special Report - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Staying safe during a tornado: A WTOL 11 Special Report

Posted: Updated:
Storm in Cloverdale, OH (Source: Melissa Schultz) Storm in Cloverdale, OH (Source: Melissa Schultz)
Debris (Source: Mike James) Debris (Source: Mike James)
Customers and employees take cover at Meijer (Source: Viewer Photo) Customers and employees take cover at Meijer (Source: Viewer Photo)
(Toledo News Now) -

We've heard incredible stories of survival this week about local residents whose homes were directly hit in Sunday's tornados, but what if you're in a public place or in your car when a tornado strikes?

Three of the most common places to be are in a store, sports stadium or car, but do you know what to do if a storm is coming toward you in one of these places?

"I never thought that I would be in a tornado. I never thought about what I would do," said Bianca Guerra.

But when the time came on Sunday, Guerra ran into a Meijer store in Oregon.

"I noticed that the lights in the parking lot went out and so when I noticed that, the windows started shaking and I turned around and ran," she said.

Guerra ran to a stock room with other customers and employees. Wood County Emergency Management Director Brad Gilbert says Guerra did the right thing. Gilbert says to always stay away from doors and windows during a tornado, and avoid the center – the roof could cave in. Go to the back or side of the store.

"A lot of times the warehouse part of the store, where they store all the merchandise before they bring it out, again is a smaller area than the big retail area roof," Gilbert said. "You're going to get more support underneath those roofs back by these locations."

"Always get to the back," Guerra added. "Get as far away from the storm as you can."

What if you're stuck at a sports stadium? Gilbert says you should take cover immediately.

"Obviously you're out in the open, you're exposed to the elements," he said. "Really the key is getting ahead of the game. Again, that will help reduce the panic."

The biggest threat is not that a tornado will sweep you up, but that debris could strike you. Get to the concourse or a bathroom or office where there is concrete to protect you.

This is also the case for a thunderstorm. Gilbert says more people are injured by lightning than anything else in a storm.

Many people are afraid of being stuck in their car during a storm. It happened to Tim Apple when a tornado struck on Quarry Road near North Baltimore.

"All of a sudden, a wall of water, and the next thing you know, shrapnel is flying around my car," Apple said.

Gilbert says if there is no building to escape into, pull off the road.

"Stay in your car, put your seat all the way back so you're laying as flat as possible, make sure your seatbelt stays on to keep you strapped in the car," he said.

Many of us have been told to get out of the car and take cover in a ditch if a tornado is coming, but it turns out that's not the best thing to do.

"The ditch could be full of water, debris could still get at you in a more shallow ditch," Gilbert explained. "It would probably be safer to stay in your vehicle."

He says there's one common theme for staying safe in all three places: look at your surroundings and know your options before a storm hits.

Mobile users, click on the "Video" button in the app to watch this story. Download our app here.

Copyright 2013 Toledo News Now. All rights reserved.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Man killed in exchange of fire with deputy identified

    Man killed in exchange of fire with deputy identified

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 6:18 PM EDT2014-04-15 22:18:06 GMT
    The Stone County man who was killed Monday after exchanging fire with a Sheriff's deputy has been identified.More >>
    The Stone County man who was killed Monday after exchanging fire with a Sheriff's deputy has been identified. Stone County Coroner Wayne Flurry said William Peyton Ayers, 46, died as a result of gunshot wounds to his chest and torso area.More >>
  • First responders ask Diamondhead residents to mark homes

    First responders ask Diamondhead residents to mark homes

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:54 AM EDT2014-04-16 10:54:05 GMT
    It's not a problem exclusive to Diamondhead, but residents who fail to post their addresses on their homes and mail boxes are making it tough for first responders to find them during times of emergency.More >>
    It's not a problem exclusive to Diamondhead, but residents who fail to post their addresses on their homes and mail boxes are making it tough for first responders to find them during times of emergency. As WLOX News found out, Diamondhead's unique street names only compound the problem.More >>
  • Skatepark to become a soundstage; Rollergirls left 'homeless'

    Skatepark to become a soundstage; Rollergirls left 'homeless'

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:52 AM EDT2014-04-16 10:52:09 GMT
    Plans are in the works to turn the Harrison County Skatepark on Debuys Rd. into a soundstage for film production. But the impending deal means the Mississippi Rollergirls will have to find a new home.More >>
    Plans are in the works to turn the Harrison County Skatepark on Debuys Road into a soundstage for film production. But the impending deal means the Mississippi Rollergirls will have to find a new place to practice.More >>
Powered by WorldNow

208 DeBuys Road
Biloxi, MS 39531
(228) 896-1313

FCC Public File
EEO Report
Closed Captioning

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WLOX. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.