Seeking Shelter from Tornadoes in Oklahoma Apartment Buildings

Published: November 16, 2016 2:13 pm

Torando in field

It’s never too early to prepare for tornado season in Oklahoma, especially if you live in an apartment building. Most apartments offer places to seek shelter from a tornado, but if you are living on the second or third floor, it’s helpful to know your options when it comes to nearby shelter.

We’ve compiled a guide with tips on seeking shelter and protecting yourself this storm season.

Avoid Driving in Oklahoma’s Severe Weather

First things first — it is a risk to be in a vehicle and drive as a storm approaches, so seeking shelter away from your apartment is not always a good idea. It’s good practice to find a safe space in your apartment or one immediately nearby to avoid being stuck on the roads in a severe storm.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation warns drivers to “never shelter under overpasses or bridges.” ODOT also advises drivers of the following:

  • “Do not take shelter under overpasses or bridges. The wind from a tornado can accelerate as it blows through the underpass, likely sweeping everything away.”
  • “Find shelter in a building if at all possible. If a building is not available, get out of your vehicle and find the lowest level of shelter, such as a ditch or ravine.”
  • “Protect your head and neck with your hands.”
  • “Watch for rising water if taking shelter in a ditch or ravine.”
  • “Don’t try to outrun a storm. Heavy winds may cause a loss of control of the vehicle. Motorists are advised to get off the road as quickly and safely as they can. If you spot a tornado moving in your direction, use the 90-degree rule. That means driving away from the tornado at a 90-degree angle or in a different direction from the tornado’s path. If the tornado is headed right toward you, don’t stay in your car.”

Apartment in a storm

Seeking Shelter in Your Apartment

Tornadoes form quickly and can leave residents with little time to prepare, so it is important to know ahead of time the best location in your apartment to seek shelter in a storm. First, you should get to the lowest level of the building. If you live on an upper level, seek shelter in a neighbor’s lower apartment, the parking garage, or in your apartment community’s clubhouse. You can also contact your leasing manager and ask if there are storm shelters located in your apartment community. Find a small space such as a closet or a bathroom, covering yourself with pillows, blankets, or mattresses for protection.

It’s also good to have an emergency kit on hand during severe weather. An emergency kit should include a radio, a flashlight, batteries, a first aid kit, spare keys, your ID, and anything of value to you. This will help ease your worries during the storm.

More Places to Seek Tornado Shelter in Oklahoma

If you feel you are unable to take shelter in your apartment community and do not have a nearby underground storm shelter, you have a few options. There are many local buildings that will provide shelter to the public, however, it is important to check with these locations first. Again, it can be dangerous to drive in tornado weather, so do not leave your apartment unless the shelter location is in close proximity to you and the storm is not near.

Some potential shelters may include:

  • Churches
  • Shopping malls
  • Libraries
  • Parking garages
  • University buildings (for students)
  • Government buildings
  • Businesses

Remember to check in with a potential location before you brace the storm to drive to it, and also consider a few more things: maximum capacity, availability of food and water, accessibility, and proximity to you.

After the Storm

Just because the tornado has passed doesn’t mean you should stop practicing caution. Be careful as you leave your apartment or place of shelter – watch for fallen utility lines or tree limbs, debris, and shattered glass. If you have any sort of damage, know your resources for assistance.

Many local churches and non-profits help those who have been affected by severe storms, so reach out to the local organizations around you for help in a time of need.

If you’re looking for an apartment with shelter options, or one located near a reliable shelter, view our listings. We have apartments listed with parking garages and clubhouses, so you shouldn’t feel compelled to leave your apartment community to seek shelter.

Stay safe this upcoming storm season!