Posted on January 12, 2013
Like putting butter on a burn or sucking poison out of a snake bite, some myths persist no matter how many times they're proved wrong. When it comes to reacting during a disaster like a tornado, wildfire or earthquake, a little bit of misinformation can do a whole lot of damage.
Here are some common misconceptions about disaster preparedness and the correct information that will help you stay safe.
Myth No. 1: Stand inside a doorway during an earthquake
Years ago, when homes and buildings weren't built according to today's improved engineering standards, people recommended standing inside a reinforced doorway for protection during an earthquake. But these days, "that is definitely a myth that could get you into trouble," warns Peter Moraga, a spokesperson for the Insurance Information Network of California. "Scientists have proven that the best thing to do is drop, cover and hold on."
By dropping to your knees, covering your head and hiding beneath a heavy table or another piece of furniture, Moraga says you stand a much better chance of avoiding falling objects during an earthquake. Also, you're more likely to get injured while dashing for a doorway than simply staying put.
Myth No. 2: Open the windows in your home to equalize the pressure caused by an approaching tornado
This is a terrible idea for a couple of reasons, explains Julie Rochman, president of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. "It doesn't work and it's a really bad idea to stand in front of a window when a tornado is flinging debris all over the place. Plus, if there's an opening in the window, you could be sucked out."
Rochman recommends that people "leave their windows alone and instead go to a windowless area, like a shelter, your basement or a windowless room."
In addition, it’s a good idea to wear a bike or motorcycle helmet during a tornado but only if you don't spend time looking for one.
Myth No. 3: Tape your windows during a hurricane
Taping a big “X” on your window isn't going to do anything to prevent the window from blowing in. Plus, if you're taping windows at the last minute, you're putting yourself in danger. Better you should invest in a window protection system like impact-resistant windows or hurricane shutters.
The myth is that the tape will hold the glass together, but that's totally false. The duct tape may in fact create larger shards of glass that could cause significant injuries. The best thing to do is to put up plywood or a corrugated type of window protection.
Myth No. 4: Open a window or a door on the lee side of your house during a hurricane
This is a long-standing myth spread from one neighbor to the next. The belief is that if you open the windows on the lee side, referring to the side of a building that is sheltered from the wind of a home, you'll relieve the pressure and prevent the roof from popping off. But the fact of the matter is that's a huge misconception. Changes in atmospheric pressure caused by a hurricane have no impact on a home or building. Opening doors and windows, however, can invite in flying debris -- a definite hazard.
Myth No. 5: Stay and defend your home in the event of a wildfire
While it's not unusual for some homeowners to ignore evacuation orders and fight fires with garden hoses, firefighting organizations here widely encourage evacuation when wildfires threaten homes. The International Association of Fire Chiefs in Fairfax, Virginia, emphasizes early compliance with evacuation orders. It's almost always a high-risk gamble to stay in your home as a wildfire approaches. People should always heed evacuation orders and leave immediately.
Myth No. 6: Abandon your car and lie in a ditch if caught in a tornado
If you're caught in a tornado, your first plan of action should be to find shelter. If that's not possible, diving into a ditch could be dangerous. It's true that a ditch can offer a temporary escape from flying debris. However, you are better protected being inside a vehicle than out in the open. If you opt to seek shelter in a car, be sure to put on your seat belt.
The better educated and better prepared you are for an emergency, the greater likelihood you and your loved ones will make it through the event safely and with minimal injury. Having a 72 hour emergency preparedness kit is one of the most crucial elements in being prepared for disaster. For more information, check out the complete line of affordable, top-quality kits at GrabPak.