By Kiera Ford, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross
When facing a disaster, people will do anything to keep themselves, their family, and their possessions safe. Unfortunately, “anything” is not always the “right thing”. In honor of April Fool’s Day, let’s put on our myth-busting caps and, well, bust some myths!
Myth #1: Your Bathroom is the Safest Place in Your Home (In Case of Tornado)
Although your bathroom may be a safe place during a tornado, it is only so if your bathroom is the most interior room in your home. What does that mean? Well, it means that your bathroom does not share an exterior wall with the home and there are no windows.
Myth #2: Stay in Your Car During a Tornado
With “Spring Storm Season” well under way, it may be extremely possible that a tornado hits in your area while you are driving. One would think that the most logical thing to do is to stay in your car and 1) Out drive the tornado or 2) Pull over, tighten your seat belt and wait. Unfortunately neither of those options are the best option. Should you be driving and a tornado occurs, the best and safest thing for you to do is to pull over, get out of your vehicle and lie in a ditch. This ensures that should the tornado overtake your vehicle, you are not in it.
Myth #3: The Water Only Looks Deep
During a flood, be it in your home or outside, it is hard to tell just how deep the water is. One of the easiest ways to measure the water levels is to walk/drive through it. Please, for your own safety, don’t do it! If the water looks deep, it most likely is deep. If the water looks shallow, it’s probably still pretty deep and you should still avoid it. Remember, TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN!
Myth #4: You Only Need to Take Cover If You Hear a “Train”
One of the more popular beliefs is that if you hear a noise similar to a train, that is a tornado and until you hear that, you are safe. This isn’t true! (The safe part, not the noise part. I’m not entirely sure what a tornado sounds like…) Once a tornado warning has been issued it is very important to take cover. This means doing to the safest, most interior part of your home. Do not wait until you hear the common “train noise” or sirens to take cover!
Myth #5: Tornadoes Only Occur During Tornado Season
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as “Tornado Season” and tornadoes occur any time that the weather is favorable for them. This could be during any season, month, or day of the year.
Myth #6: Fires Spread Slowly
Many believe that during a fire, be it a wildfire or a house fire, that the flames spread slowly and they will have enough time to gather personal belongings before vacating the premises. Although at times, specifically during wildfires, you will have advance notice if the fire is moving in your direction, in most other cases (house fires) this opportunity is not available. Should a fire happen in your home or next to your home, it is extremely important to get out immediately and go to your pre-designated and safe meet up spot. A simple, small flame from a candle can become uncontrollable in less than thirty seconds!
Myth #7: Pets Can Sense Danger and Get Themselves Out of the House
Pets are most vulnerable to danger during a fire or other disasters, as they cannot get themselves to safety. Pets cannot open doors or windows and are therefore unable to escape should a tragedy occur. Be sure to practice your escape plans and routes with your pets so you are aware of how to get them out to safety if a time of disaster occurs. But remember, your safety should always be a priority!
Myth #8: Turning off the Electricity During a Thunderstorm Will Save You From Further Damages.
Raise your hand if you had to sit in the dark with your granny during a thunderstorm. Although this myth is based more so on superstition, many people believe that it is necessary to turn of the lights, television, and other electronics during a storm to hinder any unnecessary damage. The truth is electrical damage during a storm is going to happen (or not) whether you are Netflix and chilling or sitting around the flashlight singing hymns.
Myth #9: Earthquakes Only Occur on the West Coast
Earthquakes can occur anywhere in the United States, but studies and history have shown they typically follow a pattern and occur in the same areas of the Earth. Earthquakes also have a lot to do with tectonic plates shifting and all that sciencey stuff. The most important earthquake myth we’re all waiting to bust is if California is going to break off from the United States and become the next Lost City of Atlantis.
Myth #10: Most Disasters Can Be Avoided
Unfortunately most, actually almost all, disasters cannot be foreseen or avoided. Tornadoes, house fires, floods, earthquakes and much, much more although common, cannot be prevented. The most one can do is be knowledgeable about potential situations and learn about ways to prepare yourself and your loved ones should a disaster occur. This means having a fire safety evacuation plan, having working smoke detectors throughout your home, and a disaster kit that includes flashlights, batteries, bottled water, blankets, clothes, and more. Being prepared, especially in areas where harsh weather is all too regular (Northeast Texas) will make dealing with disasters easier. And remember always, should anything happen, the American Red Cross is here for you!