Tornado Preparedness



Tornadoes are frightening realities. We can't prevent them or even predict where or when they will strike. Many of us aren't sure what we should do during a tornado. Even if you are at home, you can't always rely on weather reports to warn you of an approaching tornado, because conditions change so quickly. Tornadoes can occur without warning, or you may be out of range of emergency sirens.

During a Tornado

When a tornado has been sighted in your immediate area take the following actions:

At Home

Go at once to your predetermined shelter (the basement, storm cellar, or the lowest level of the building). Stay there until the danger has passed. If there is no basement, go to an inner hallway or a small inner room without windows, such as a bathroom or closet. Use a smaller room, one with four walls preferably, like a bathroom or walk-in closet. Try to use an area that is adjacent to a load bearing wall.

However much you want to see the storm, stay away from all windows, doors, and outside walls.

Go directly to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they tend to attract debris. Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench or heavy table and hold on to it for all you're worth. Use sofa cushions or your arms to protect your head and neck.

If in a mobile home, get out and seek shelter elsewhere. A mobile home can overturn very easily even if precautions have been taken to tie down the unit. If there isn't a substantial shelter nearby, seek shelter in a low-lying area. Use your arms to protect your head and neck.

Public Buildings (School, Hospital, Factory, Shopping Center, etc.)

Go to the basement or to an inside hallway, a small, interior room, or a bathroom or closet on the lowest possible level. Avoid places with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums, cafeterias, gymnasiums, and large hallways. Stay away from windows and open spaces. Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench or heavy table or desk and hold on to it.


If possible, get inside a substantial building. If shelter is not available or there is no time to get indoors, lie in a ditch, culvert, or low-lying area or crouch near a strong building. Use your arms to protect your head and neck. Be alert for potential flash flooding.

In A Vehicle

Never try to outrun a tornado in a vehicle. Heavy rain, hail, and traffic may impede your movement, and tornadoes can travel as quickly as 70mph over dry land. Tornadoes can quickly change directions and can easily lift up a vehicle and toss it through the air. Pull to the side of the road avoiding trees, power lines and other objects that could fall or be hazardous. Get out of the vehicle immediately and try to take shelter in a nearby building.

If there isn't time to get indoors, get out of the vehicle and lie in a ditch, culvert, or low-lying area away from the vehicle. Use your arms to protect your head and neck.

After a Tornado

  • Check people around you for injuries. Begin first aid or seek help if necessary. Always cooperate with local officials.
  • Check utility lines and appliances for damage. If you smell gas, open the windows and turn off the main valve. Don't turn on lights or appliances until the gas has dissipated. If electric wires are shorting out, turn off the power.
  • When you go outside, watch for downed power lines.
  • Notify your insurance agent and provide as much detail as possible about damage to your property. Follow the agent's directions on filing your claim. Take photos or videotape the damage to your home or property.
  • Take steps to protect your home and furniture from further damage:
    • Clean and dry your furniture, bedding, rugs and carpeting as soon as possible.
    • Board up windows and holes in the walls or roof.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.

Prepare a Home Tornado Plan

  • Pick a place where family members could gather if a tornado is headed your way. It could be your basement or, if there is no basement, a center hallway, bathroom, or closet on the lowest floor. Keep this place uncluttered.
  • If you are in a high-rise building, you may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor. Pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building.

Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit Containing--First

  • Canned food and can opener
  • At least three gallons of water per person
  • Protective clothing, rainwear, and bedding or sleeping bags
  • Battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.
  • Special items for infants, elderly, or disabled family members.
  • Written instructions for how to turn off electricity, gas and water if authorities advise you to do so. (Remember, you'll need a professional to turn them back on.)
  • Identify where you could go if told to evacuate. Choose several places . . . a friend's home in another town, a motel, or a shelter.

Stay Tuned For Storm Warnings:

  • Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information.
  • Know what a tornado WATCH and WARNING means:
    • A tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible in your area.
    • A tornado WARNING means a tornado has been sighted and may be headed for your area.
      Go to safety immediately.
  • Tornado WATCHES and WARNINGS are issued by county or parish.