Photo: File

On the evening of Friday, Aug. 3, an F4 tornado touched down in the Alonsa, Manitoba area, and tragically, one man was killed as it tore through the community causing catastrophic damage. Tornadoes often form very quickly so it’s important to know what to do in the event a tornado is in your area. So, what signs should you look for if you think a tornado may be headed your way?

According to the Government of Canada, here are a few of the warning signs to look out for:

  • a severe thunderstorm, with frequent thunder and lightning;
  • an extremely dark sky, sometimes highlighted by green or yellow clouds;
  • a rumbling sound or a whistling sound;
  • a funnel cloud at the rear base of a thundercloud, often behind a curtain of heavy rain or hail.

Depending on where you are when the tornado occurs, there are different ways you should attempt to seek shelter to protect yourself.

If you’re in a house

Go to the basement or take shelter in a small interior ground floor room such as a bathroom, closet or hallway. If you have no basement, protect yourself by taking shelter under a heavy table or desk. In all cases, stay away from windows, outside walls and doors.

If you’re on a farm

Livestock hear and sense impending tornadoes. If your family or home is at risk, the livestock will be a non-issue. If your personal safety is not an issue, you may only have time to open routes of escape for your livestock. Open the gate, if you must, and then exit the area in a tangent direction away from the expected path of the twister.

If you’re in an office or apartment building

Take shelter in an inner hallway or room, ideally in the basement or on the ground floor. Do not use the elevator. Stay away from windows.

If you’re in a gymnasium, church or auditorium

Large buildings with wide-span roofs may collapse if a tornado hits. If possible, find shelter in another building. If you are in one of these buildings and cannot leave, take cover under a sturdy structure such as a table or desk.

Avoid cars and mobile homes

More than half of all deaths from tornadoes happen in mobile homes. Find shelter elsewhere, preferably in a building with a strong foundation. If no shelter is available, lie down in a ditch away from the car or mobile home. Beware of flooding from downpours and be prepared to move.

If you’re driving

If you spot a tornado in the distance go to the nearest solid shelter. If the tornado is close, get out of your car and take cover in a low-lying area, such as a ditch.

In all cases it’s important to get as close to the ground as possible, protect your head and watch for flying debris. Do not chase tornadoes – they are unpredictable and can change course abruptly. A tornado is deceptive. It may appear to be standing still but is, in fact, moving toward you.

Information compiled from ‘Get Prepared’ on the Government of Canada website

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