Are You Prepared in the Event of a Tornado?
There is no such thing as guaranteed safety.
Freak accidents happen, and the most violent tornadoes can level and blow away almost any house and occupants. Extremely violent EF5 tornadoes are very rare.
Most tornadoes are much weaker and can be survived using these safety ideas.
Signs of a Tornado
- Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base.
- Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base-tornadoes sometimes have no funnel!
- Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can't be seen.
- Day or night- loud continuous roar or rumble, which doesn't fade in a few seconds like thunder.
- Night- small bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). A very strong wind is snapping these mean power lines, maybe a tornado.
- Night- persistent lowering from the cloud base, illuminated or silhouetted by lightning, especially if it is on the ground or a blue-green-white power flash underneath.
Prevention and Practice Before the Storm
Have a tornado plan in place. Know where to take shelter. Practice a family tornado drill. Name a place to meet after a disaster—store protective coverings in or next to your shelter space for flying debris. When a tornado watch is issued, think about the drill and make sure safety supplies are handy. Turn on a local TV, radio, or NOAA weather radio and stay alert for warnings.
The Storm Hits: Where are You?
In a house with a basement
- Avoid windows, get in the basement and under some protection. Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above and do not go under them. They may fall through a weakened floor and crush you.
In a house with no basement
- Avoid windows, go to the lowest floor, small center room under a stairwell, or a small interior hallway with no windows.
- Crouch as low as possible to the floor, face down, and cover your head with your hands.
In an office building
- Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building. Crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter. Stay off the elevator.
In a mobile home
- Get out! Even if your home is tied down. It is not as safe as an underground shelter or a permanent, sturdy building.
- Follow the drill! Go to the interior hall or room in an orderly as you were told. Crouch low, head down and protect the back of your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms.
In the open outdoors
- If possible, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If not, lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as possible.
In a mall or store
- Do not panic; watch for others. Move as quickly as possible to an interior bathroom, storage room, or other small enclosed areas. Crouch face-down and protect your head with your arms.
In a car or truck
- Park the car safely, stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, cover your head. Suppose you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway. Leave your car and lie in the area, covering your head with your hands, avoid seeking shelter under bridges.