Many states have already weighed in on whether or not community storm shelters will be open in the event of severe weather or a tornado in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The verdict for most states is in and they will be open.
Although the virus has already sickened tens of thousands of people and killed many. If a tornado hits, going to a storm shelter could be a matter of life or death in an instant, but it’s possible you’d be exposing yourself to the coronavirus.
Deciding to head to a storm shelter if you have no other option to protect yourself from severe weather events isn’t something you can do remotely. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes have already started for the springtime season and if you need to make a choice it’s important to know what to choose.
If you can shelter in your own home or somewhere with a limited number of people, that is obviously the safest option, but if you need to head to a local community shelter, don’t let the virus stop you. Abandoning the social-distancing recommendations can be scary, but if you don’t, you may not live through a severe weather event or tornado.
Health officials have already weighed in and most agree that protecting yourself from severe weather should take precedence over avoiding contact with others. Many states are working on plans, or have already developed new procedures for shelters to minimize the impact of essential group gatherings.
Keep in mind that not all shelters will be open due to the coronavirus so you will want to plan ahead and find out where your nearest shelter is that will be open in the event of a tornado or severe weather.
In the event you must go to a shelter, if there is time, gather some supplies to minimize your exposure to the coronavirus. If the shelter does not have a hand-washing station readily available, taking along some alcohol-based instant sanitizer and wipes will be helpful.
While you are sheltering, and when you leave, avoid touching your face including your eyes, mouth, and nose. If you need to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth as you may be carrying the virus unknowingly.
Although it may not be possible to stay within 6-feet away from other people in a community shelter, stay as far away as possible. If you notice someone that acts or appears to be sick, avoid them as much as possible.
Wash your hands regularly throughout the severe weather event until it is safe for you to leave. Last but not least, once you return home you should self-isolate for no less than two weeks in the event you contract the virus while at the storm shelter.