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Tornado Safety: How to prepare your home for a tornado

Tornado Safety: How to prepare your home for a tornado

When it comes to tornados, like other extreme weather events, it's important to prepare now so you're able to quickly implement a safety plan if/when a tornado is imminent. Here are some ways to stay safe:

Get Prepared Now

  • Designate a safe room in your home that can be reached in a matter of seconds. Choose an interior room or hallway with no windows on the lowest floor of your home.
  • Make sure your emergency kit is fully stocked. (For your pets, too!)
  • Clear the areas surrounding your home of trees, trash cans, yard debris, grills, outdoor furniture, and other materials that can be moved by wind.

Before a Tornado

  • Listen to local news or NOAA weather radio for the latest information and weather alerts. Turn on notifications on your mobile phone to make sure you don't miss alerts sent out by local authorities.
  • Always follow instructions given by local emergency management officials, and know what the different tornado alerts mean:
Tornado Watch: Weather conditions indicate there's a possibility of a tornado in or near your area.
Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted near your location. Seek shelter immediately and listen closely for weather updates.

During a Tornado

In a structure that is not your home:

  • Head to the lowest level. If a basement isn't available, take shelter in a bathroom or closet nearest to the center of the building or house.
  • Cover yourself with blankets or a mattress and use your arms to protect your head and neck.
  • Stay clear of windows, skylights, and glass doors.

If you're outdoors:

  • Take shelter inside a building if one is nearby.
  • If there aren't any buildings nearby, get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt, and attempt to drive to the nearest permanent structure.
  • If you are driving in your vehicle and you are hit by flying debris, pull over and put your car in park. Stay in the car with your seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, and cover yourself with a coat or blanket, if possible.
  • If you notice an area that is lower than your car, such as a ditch, leave your car and lie down there, covering your head and neck with your arms.

Fact: Flying debris is the greatest danger in a tornado.


Know the warning signs of a tornado:

  • Dark sky, often with a greenish tint
  • Hail
  • Low-lying clouds
  • Roaring noise, like a freight train
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