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The best place to be when a tornado threatens

Posted On Wed, May 22, 2013

A considerable number of Midwestern residents are reeling after a major tornado touched down in late May, leaving a path of destruction that was felt in at least five states.

On May 20, a twister that registered a Category 5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale - the strongest measurement there is for tornadoes - tore through several parts of the Midwest, with some of the most devastating effects taking place in Moore, Oklahoma. According to official estimates, the tornado was 17 miles long and one-and-a-half miles wide, producing wind gusts in excess of 200 mph. In addition, once the twister touched down, it remained on the ground for more than 50 minutes, affecting 22 square miles of property and demolishing dozens of buildings and homes.

In the wake of the devastating tornado, many homeowners may be wondering about where the best place is for them to be when a twister threatens their area.

Move to innermost part of a home or building
Emergency preparedness experts point out that while there's no singular place that guarantees safety, there are certain places that are more likely to shield individuals from injury than others. For example, when at home, the best place to be is in the most central and interior part of the residence, which ideally is the basement.

Should a residence not have a cellar, the next best room to go to is one that is without windows and in the lowest portion of the home. If there are items that can cause injury if they fall or knocked over, they should be taken down, if possible, or avoided by going into a room that's empty.

The same rule applies in buildings, schools or other public facilities. The innermost part of the building is best, preferable one without windows and on the lowest possible floor.

Based on a review of insurance rates, approximately $58 billion was spent on insured losses in the U.S. alone last year, all of them resulting from natural catastrophes. That's well above the $27 billion that was spent in 2011, Munich Re reports.

Between 1992 and 2011, approximately one-third of natural disasters were tornadoes, according to the Insurance Information Institute. At 42 percent, hurricanes and tropical storms were the only weather-based incidents that resulted in more insured losses.

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