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Protect yourself from injury after a tornado

Injury may result from the direct impact of a tornado. Injury may also after a tornado when people walk among debris and enter damaged buildings.

A study of injuries after a tornado in Marion, Illinois, showed that 50 percent of the tornado-related injuries were suffered during rescue attempts, cleanup, and other post-tornado activities. Nearly a third of the injuries resulted from stepping on nails. Other common causes of injury included falling objects and heavy, rolling objects.

Because tornadoes often damage power lines, gas lines, or electrical systems, there is a risk of fire, electrocution, or an explosion. Protecting yourself and your family requires promptly treating any injuries suffered during the storm and using extreme care to avoid further hazards.
Injuries

Check for injuries

Do not attempt to move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Get medical assistance immediately. If someone has stopped breathing, begin CPR if you are trained to do so. If someone is bleeding, stop the bleeding. Stop a bleeding injury by applying direct pressure to the wound. Have any puncture wound evaluated by a physician. If you are trapped, try to attract attention to your location.

General Safety Precautions

Safety precautions that could help you avoid injury after a tornado:

  • Continue to monitor your battery-powered radio or television for emergency information.
  • Be careful when entering any structure that has been damaged.
  • Wear sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeves, and gloves when handling or walking on or near debris.
  • Be aware of hazards from exposed nails and broken glass.
  • Do not touch downed power lines or objects in contact with downed lines. Report electrical hazards to the police and the utility company.
  • Use battery-powered lanterns, if possible, rather than candles to light homes without electrical power. If you use candles, make sure they are in safe holders away from curtains, paper, wood, or other flammable items. Never leave a candle burning when you are out of the room.
  • Never use generators, pressure washers, grills, camp stoves, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices inside your home, basement, garage, or camper—or even outside near an open window, door, or vent. Carbon monoxide (CO)--an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death if you breathe it--from these sources can build up in your home, garage, or camper and poison the people and animals inside. Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseated.
  • Hang up displaced telephone receivers that may have been knocked off by the tornado, but stay off the telephone, except to report an emergency.
  • Cooperate fully with public safety officials.
  • Respond to requests for volunteer assistance by police, fire fighters, emergency management, and relief organizations, but do not go into damaged areas unless assistance has been requested. Your presence could hamper relief efforts, and you could endanger yourself.

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