March marks the beginning of many pleasantries, like springtime, more sunshine, and longer days. However, March also signifies the start of tornado season in the south. Did you know that Louisiana and Texas are included in the Dixie Valley, a southern region susceptible to strong tornadoes? According to The Weather Channel, there were over 60 tornado reports in Louisiana and over 40 in Texas by November 2018!

Tornadoes can seem frightening, especially if you aren’t sure how to seek shelter. Homeowners may have basements or storm cellars, but if you rent an apartment, you may not know how to protect yourself during a tornado. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to stay safe this tornado season if you live in an apartment. If you are lucky, you may never encounter a disastrous tornado at your apartment complex, but if you do, you can prepare yourself in advance.

Tornado Season Preparation Guide

1. Understand tornado terminology

It’s important to know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning to help you understand the severity of the storm in your area and how to properly prepare for safety.

  • Tornado watch: According to meteorologists, the weather conditions in your area could cause a tornado to form. Stay alert by turning on your local weather channel or radio station for further updates, and make sure to have a safety plan in place if a watch turns into a warning.
  • Tornado warning: This means that a tornado has touched ground and has been physically spotted. If meteorologists issue a tornado warning in your county, then you will need to execute your disaster plan immediately.

2. Create a tornado disaster plan

Knowing what to do if a tornado lands in your area will help you protect yourself from harm during severe weather. Here are some things to ask yourself and your landlord or apartment manager before a tornado watch or warning is announced:

Creating a tornado disaster plan starts with protecting your valuable assets, like your personal belongings and vehicle. Tornado damage could wreak havoc on your car and inside your apartment. Hopefully this doesn’t happen, but renters insurance and comprehensive car insurance coverage exist to give you peace-of-mind by helping pay to replace your valuables and cover car repairs after a natural disaster.

  • Does your apartment building have a storm shelter?

Find out if your apartment complex has a storm shelter that you can access during tornado season. Your building could also have an underground parking garage, which would be the lowest, safest level of your complex.

  • What floor do you live on?

If a tornado strikes, try to stay on the lowest level of your apartment building as possible. If you live on the top floor, have a conversation with your lower-level neighbors about seeking shelter in their units. If a tornado has already touched the ground and you don’t have time to rush down multiple flights of stairs, there are still ways for you to stay safe in your top-level apartment.

  • Where is your most central room?

Whether your apartment is located on the top floor or the bottom, it is critical to take shelter in your unit’s most central location, like a closet or a bathroom. Just make sure to stay in a room without windows to avoid getting injured from flying debris. Once you’re in your most interior room, crouch down as low as possible with your face down, and cover your face with your hands to protect your head.

  • What materials can you use to protect yourself?

Gather household items to protect yourself even further from tornado injuries. Pillows, blankets, and especially mattresses can shield you from falling objects. You can also seek safety under a large, heavy table or another piece of furniture for extra protection (as long as you stay in a room with no windows).

3. Pack an emergency relief kit

Keep a disaster relief kit in easy reach in case tornado sirens alarm in your area. Staying prepared with emergency supplies will give you peace-of-mind during a tornado warning, and you can bring it with you to your neighbor’s low-level apartment or to your storm shelter. Instead of rushing to gather safety supplies during a tornado, take a precautionary step and pack a bag with the following items beforehand:

  • A flashlight
  • A portable radio
  • Extra batteries
  • Blankets and pillows
  • Cash
  • ID
  • Personal valuables
  • Any required medications

4. Pay attention to tornado warning signs

 If your Louisiana or Texas sky looks menacing, turn on your local news channel, radio station, or smartphone alerts to find out if a tornado watch or warning is underway. There are also tornado weather warning signs that you can pay attention to during severe weather:

  • A dark, greenish sky
  • Large hail with absence of rain
  • Still wind and air
  • A loud, freight train-like roar
  • Clouds of debris

What to Do After a Tornado 

If a tornado does hit near your apartment, make sure to stay cautious when exiting your sheltered area. Watch your steps and walk carefully to note any damage inside your apartment or near your building. Look for structural damages, loose power lines, and tree limbs that look like they could fall. If you don’t feel safe enough to leave your apartment, you can wait for authorities to arrive, but if you see flooding or smell gas, you should leave your premises right away.

To ensure that your property is replaced or repaired, you should take photos of damages to your vehicle or apartment to show your landlord and insurance agent. Thankfully, comprehensive car insurance coverage covers damages caused by natural disasters. Your renters insurance policy could cover damages to your personal belongings, but it will not cover structural damages to your apartment. However, your renters insurance could cover temporary living expenses if your apartment is deemed uninhabitable after a tornado, and your landlord’s property insurance could take care of damage repair costs. To learn more about how comprehensive car insurance and renters insurance could protect your property in the event of a tornado, call 800-708-0123, click, or visit a friendly ABC Insurance agent before tornado season begins.

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