If you make your living as a trucker, a spring storm safety refresher both for you on the road, as well as your family at home, is essential. It's only a matter of time until severe weather strikes your home base or the path you travel on the job.
To stay safe, you need to know how to avoid severe weather, including thunder storms, tornadoes, or hurricanes, whenever possible, as well as what to do if you find yourself surrounded by dangerous weather conditions.
Spring Storm Safety and Tornado Tips for Truckers
Be Aware of the Weather Conditions
The most important thing you can do is to stay aware of weather conditions in the areas that you will be traveling. Tune into the local radio stations, download weather alert apps, watch the weather channel, or go to weather-related websites that will cover the area along your route. Awareness is an essential part of spring storm safety, not only during tornado season, but during the winter as well, when snow and ice can make the roads a serious danger. Staying informed of any potential for severe weather will help you plan a safe route.
Stay Out (or Get Out) of the Danger Zone
If you can, stay away from any potential dangerous weather by planning your route accordingly. If your route goes through an area that shows a potential for storms, check the map and find a route that helps you avoid the situation entirely. If your destination is in the area of the storm, see if you can leave early to miss the storm or wait it out until the potential for hazardous weather has passed. It may not always be possible, but being proactive and avoiding the hazardous conditions altogether is the best way to stay safe during storms and tornadoes.
Stay Away from Overpasses
If you do find yourself in a storm, never go for the myth of hiding under an overpass. For years, drivers believed this is one of the best places to wait out a storm, but in fact it’s one of the worst. Overpasses can become wind-tunnels, interacting with a tornado to create even more powerful winds. Stay away from overpasses, whether you’re in your cab or on the ground. Which brings us to another topic: whether or not to leave your truck...
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
This topic is highly-debated among truckers in the industry. Some swear by staying in your cab, while others advocate leaving the truck and seeking low ground like a ditch or valley. It seems the best answer depends on the situation itself. Sometimes, it may be best to stay put and let the cab be your shelter, while other situations call for leaving the truck. However, if there is real shelter nearby, like a building or home, this option is always better than staying in your truck or hiding in a ditch.
Benefits of Staying in the Truck
Inside your cab, the truck will act as your shelter, protecting you from hail, lightening, and debris. Keep your seatbelt on, as this will protect you if the winds become strong enough to overturn your vehicle. You should also crouch below the line of the windshield to protect yourself from flying debris.
Benefits of Getting Out
Getting out and hiding in a ditch puts you below the strongest winds and flying debris. If winds hit your truck hard enough, it could overturn, in which case you will be thankful you’re not inside. If you choose to get out, make sure you are far enough away from the truck in case it is pushed over.
In the end, it really comes down to being informed and aware. The #1, undisputed spring storm safety tip for truckers is to avoid the severe weather altogether. Yes, you need to do your job and be a dependable trucker, but taking risks with your life just to make your delivery is simply not worth it.
No reasonable person will be upset with you because you chose to avoid severe weather. In fact, most people will applaud your regard for safety.
HOME PREPARATION: STORM SAFETY TIPS FOR TRUCK DRIVERS AND THEIR FAMILIES
Obviously, truck driving jobs may take you away from home for an extended period of time. It is critical that your family is trained to identify severe weather conditions and how to protect themselves and your home during incliment weather conditions.
Create a Severe-Weather-Emergency Plan
Before a tornado or severe storm hits your area, you must have a plan. First of all, make sure everyone understands the signals of a weather emergency. Is there a siren in your area? What are the TV or radio stations that communicate weather emergencies? Ensuring that everyone knows when a tornado or storm is coming is an important first step.
Next, determine a storm-safe room that everyone goes to in the case of an emergency. This location should be a basement, storm cellar, or an interior room with few or no windows. Make sure everyone knows what room to go to, and while we don’t want to forget the pets, let them know that no family members should risk their lives to save a pet or outside animal.
Put Together a Home Preparedness Kit
Home preparedness kits are great because they can be used for a wide variety of emergencies, not just tornadoes and thunderstorms. Every house should have one, so make sure your home does too.
Start your kit with basic survival items that you will need to survive the storm and its potential aftermath. Include enough water and nonperishable items to keep everyone healthy and energized for a few days, and don’t forget to pack a can opener. The chances of actually being cut off from outside food and water are slim, but it will give you reassurance to know these items are waiting for your family if they need them.
Next, make sure you have a first aid kit and a good flashlight with extra batteries. Glow sticks can also be handy in an emergency, and candles with extra matches are an absolute must.
Finally, throw in some blankets, a tarp, and extra rain gear; you never know when they might come in handy. If you want to go even further, you can purchase a backup generator and a solar-powered radio; just make sure everyone in the home knows how to use them.
If you and your family follow our Spring Cleaning Tips for Truckers, that's a good time to bring everyone together to review your home safety plan. Being away from home is never easy, but with these simple steps, you can make sure your family is prepared for tornados, thunderstorms, and other natural disasters when your trucking job takes you away from home.