How to be Prepared When a Tornado Strikes

Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms, devastating a neighborhood in seconds and leaving behind severe and sometime fatal injuries. Knowing how to protect you and your family is crucial in surviving these swift occurrences.

What Tornado Watch and Warnings Mean

Watch: Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area.

Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. When a tornado has been sighted, go to your shelter immediately. Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls.


What to do before a tornado strikes

Stock your shelter with flashlights, blankets, a radio, water, food and other needed supplies. If time permits:

  • Store vehicles, boats and RVs in the most secure place possible.
  • Arrange chairs and beds away from windows, mirrors and picture frames.
  • Place heavy or large items on lower shelves.
  • Secure your large appliances, especially your water heater, with flexible cable or metal strapping.
  • Use L brackets, corner brackets or aluminum molding to attach tall or top-heavy furniture to the wall, or eyebolts to secure items located a short distance from the wall.
  • Install sliding bolts or childproof latches on all cabinet doors.
  • Store all poisons and solvents in sturdy, latched or locked cabinets away from food and water supplies.
  • Review your homeowners insurance policy with your insurance agent periodically to make sure you have sufficient coverage.


What to do during a tornado

At Home

  • Go to the basement or storm cellar. If there is no basement, go to an interior room on the lower level (closets, interior hallways). Get under a sturdy table and protect your head. Stay there until the danger has passed.
  • In a public place, go to a shelter area pre-designated by the establishment.
  • In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.

In Your Auto

  • In a mobile home, vehicle or RV, get out immediately and go to a more substantial structure. Do not attempt to outdrive a tornado. They are erratic and fast.


  • If you cannot reach a structure, lie flat in the nearest ditch, ravine or culvert with your hands shielding your head.


What to do after a tornado

  • NEVER use a generator inside homes or in any enclosed area. Even with open doors and using fans, deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.
  • Continue listening to a radio or TV for the latest updates.
  • Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding .
  • Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges. Stay off the streets and be on the lookout for fallen objects, downed electrical wires and weakened walls, bridges, roads and sidewalks.
  • If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
  • Go outside your house and check for structural damage, loose power lines, gas leaks and other damage before entering. Stay out of any building if you smell gas, if floodwaters remain around the building or if it was damaged by fire. Have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering if you have any doubts about safety.
  • When dark, do NOT use candles. Use battery-powered flashlights. The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering as the battery could ignite leaking gases.
  • Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes.
  • Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.
  • Check refrigerator for spoiled food. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • When cleaning up, be cautious and always wear protective clothing.
  • Check for injuries. Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of death or further injury.
  • Take pictures of damage, both of your buildings and their contents, for insurance purposes.

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