Tornadoes can occur without warning. That's why it's important to be alert to changing weather, and use both broadcast information and your own senses and experience to know when to take cover.
A Tornado Watch
simply means that
conditions are favorable
for tornadoes to
develop. In this case
you should be alert to
changes in the weather
and take precautions to
protect you and your
During a Tornado Watch:
- Move cars inside a garage or carport. Keep your car keys and house keys with you.
- Move lawn furniture and yard equipment such as lawnmowers inside if time permits.
- Account for family members at home.
- Have your emergency kit ready.
- Keep your radio
or TV tuned into the
Tornado Warning means that a tornado has actually been sighted. Tornadoes can be deadly and devastating storms, with winds up to 260 miles per hour. If a Tornado Warning is issued for your area, seek shelter immediately!
There is little time for closing windows or hunting for flashlights. It's a good idea to know where things are, and to have an emergency storm kit already prepared.
- Learn the warning signals used in your community. If a siren sounds, that means stay inside and take cover.
- Consider setting up a neighborhood information program through a club, church group or community group. Hold briefings on safety procedures as tornado season approaches. Set up a system to make sure senior citizens and shut-ins are alerted if there is a tornado warning.
- Put together an emergency storm kit including a transistor radio, flashlight, batteries and simple first-aid items in a waterproof container.
- Make a complete inventory of your possessions for insurance purposes.
- Conduct drills with your family in the home; make sure each member knows the correct procedures if they are at work or school when a tornado hits.
During the Tornado
The safest place to be during a tornado is underground, preferably under something sturdy like a work bench.
If there's no basement or cellar in your home, a small room in the middle of house -- like a bathroom or a closet -- is best. The more walls between you and the outside, the better.
Mobile Home Dwellers/Owners
- Residents in mobile homes, even those with tiedowns, should seek safe shelter elsewhere at the first sign of severe weather.
- Go to a prearranged shelter or talk to a friend or relative ahead of time to see if you can go to their house when the weather turns bad.
- If you live in a mobile home park, talk to management about the availability of a nearby shelter.
- As a last resort, go outside and lie flat on the ground with your hands over your head and neck. Be alert for flash floods that often accompany such storms.
If you are driving during a tornado
- Tornadoes can toss cars and large trucks around like toys. Never try to outrun a tornado.
- If you see a funnel cloud or hear a tornado warning issued on the radio or by siren, get out of your vehicle and seek a safe structure or lie down in a low area with your hands covering the back of your head and neck; keep alert for flash floods.
- Learn emergency shelter plans in office buildings and schools you and your family frequent. If a specific shelter area does not exist, move into interior hallways or small rooms on the building's lowest level. Avoid areas with glass and wide, freespan roofs.
- If you can't get into a basement or designated shelter, move to the center of the lowest level of the building, away from windows, and lie flat.
If you are in a store or shopping mall
Go to a designated shelter area or to the center of the building on a low level. Stay away from large, open rooms and windows. Never seek shelter in cars in the parking lot.