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Seven Severe Weather Myths

by Indiana Department of Homeland Security on March 18, 2015

Everyone has heard “dos and don'ts” about severe weather. For Severe Weather Preparedness Week 2015, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security is debunking a few myths that some swear by. 

Myth #1: Any Building is Safe During a Tornado 

Manufactured buildings often can’t stand up to the wind speed and pressure, and are not safe shelters during a tornado. Hoosiers living in mobile homes or similar structures should talk to friends, family or neighbors to find a safe shelter in advance. 

Permanent structures are best for shelter during a tornado, especially if they have a basement. Interior, lower level rooms away from doors and windows can be an adequate backup plan. 

Myth #2: Seek Shelter in an Underpass During Tornadoes 

When traveling during a tornado, an underpass is one of the worst places to take shelter. Wind speeds can increase while flowing under the structure, and serious injuries can occur. Seek shelter in a permanent structure (even better if it has a basement), or find a low-laying area and lay down flat on the ground. 

Myth #3: Open Windows Prior to Tornado Strike to Equalize Pressure Inside the House to Prevent it from Exploding 

Opening windows does not help equalize pressure, and spending the time cracking those windows can use up valuable seconds needed to take shelter. When an alert sounds on television, phones or all hazard radios, seek shelter right away. 

Myth #4: If outside in a thunderstorm, seek shelter under a tree to stay dry. 

Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors. Seek shelter right away, preferably in a building or hard top automobile. Although injuries can occur to someone in a car if lightning strikes the vehicle, being inside a hard-topped vehicle is better than outside. If no shelter is available, crouch in a low area such as a ravine or valley and stay alert for flash floods. 

Myth #5: It’s OK to Drive Across a Flooded Roadway if it Doesn’t Look Too Deep 

Never attempt to cross a flooded road, even if it seems shallow. Water can conceal dips, or worse, flood waters can damage roadways, washing away the entire road surface and a significant amount of ground. According to the National Weather Service, most flood related deaths happened while driving. 

Myth #6: Playing in Flood Water is a Safe Tradition 

While playing in water can be a lot of fun, flood water can contain unknown contaminants such as oil and other waste that can impact health. Additionally, do not try to cross moving water on foot. As little as a few inches of flowing water can knock adults off their feet. 

Myth #7: Flooding Only Impacts Properties Near Rivers 

Floods can impact properties no matter where they are located, but especially in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam. Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry streambeds or low-lying ground that appears harmless in dry weather can flood. Keep storm drains clear to help combat localized flooding and monitor conditions closely during rain events. 

Seven were mentioned, but really, here’s one more… 

Myth #8: There’s No Way to Prepare for Disasters 

Taking steps now can make a big difference during an emergency. Making a plan, building an emergency kit and learning about common local risks can help increase safety. Visit the Indiana Department of Homeland Security site for more information and resources for severe weather and floods. 


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